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Barbara Banno fliers hit mailboxes ahead of Gulfport’s March election

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Hitting mailboxes in Gulfport this week are mailers touting mayoral candidate Barbara Banno. With its bright greens and blues, the mail piece serves as a de facto resume for Banno, who faces incumbent Sam Henderson.

“I have a vision for Gulfport’s brightest possible future,” says one side of the flier, which features a photo of Banno sitting on the waterfront.

The flier lists several of Banno’s priorities if elected. The first is Banno’s staple campaign promise: providing “better solutions and expert advice for the Clam Bayou sewage spill.”

She also vows to keep Gulfport a full-service city including maintaining the city’s independent police force, a hot-button issue in Gulfport.

The flier also touts an issue Banno pushed during a debate last week. She suggested the city have a routine schedule of maintenance for the city’s alleyways. There was also a promise for “greater focus” on not only alleys but also streets and sewers.

She reiterates another key talking point: promising a “stronger voice for residents/businesses through town halls, workshops and more convenient meeting times.”

That bullet point expands an issue on which she faltered during last week’s debate. When Banno called for town halls and workshops, Henderson capitalized on the statement reminding voters the city already has both.

Banno’s flier doubles down on that by adding “convenient meeting times,” bringing the issue again into relevance.

The other three promises included on the flier are growing the city’s marina to generate more revenue, increasing citizen input into spending decisions (like how to use BP settlement funds), pay for bike trail improvements and create incentives for new and existing businesses.

The bottom of the flier quotes those supporting Banno’s candidacy: business leaders Paul Ray, Paul and April Caldwell Hornsleth and Michael Nagy, former Mayor Mike Yakes and the Democratic Environmental Caucus of West Central Florida.

“Barbara has the passion, knowledge and energy we need for Gulfport,” Yakes’ quote says.

The Democratic Environmental Caucus is co-sponsoring both Banno and Henderson.

“We co-endorse Barbara Banno because she has very progressive values,” the group wrote. “She will do the right thing if she has the right information.”

On the other side of the flier is Banno’s professional and civic duty accomplishments. She’s a six-year business owner of Stella’s in downtown Gulfport and a nine-year resident. Banno was a City Council member in the City from 2011 until 2013. She’s also the vice president of the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Gulfport Merchant’s Association.

There are also claims that Banno “spearheaded streamlining of zoning and other regulations that affect small business.” And it touts her leadership in launching a protest of the August dump of sewage into Clam Bayou following a nearly unprecedented rain event in the area.

That issue continues to be a contentious one in Gulfport where residents and officials are anxiously awaiting an agreement with the city of St. Petersburg, virtually promising such an event won’t occur again. Banno is particularly riled up on the issue, and claims contamination continues in Gulfport waterways as a result of the dump.

In fact, St. Pete’s testing showed normal levels of fecal coliform soon after the event and later discontinued testing after repeated tests continued to show safe levels of bacteria.

Banno also lists leadership in launching Gulfport’s domestic partner registry, as well as her part in balancing the city’s $10 million budget amid economic woes.

The flier shows a photo of her with Pinellas County School Board candidate and former Gulfport elementary school teacher Joanne Lentino.

Banno and Henderson square off at the polls March 15.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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