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Campaign roundup: Will Newton to hold fundraiser tonight

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council candidate Will Newton is being hosted by an entourage of big city names at Ferg’s Sports Bar Monday night at 5:30.

Former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker City Council incumbents Amy Foster, Steve Kornell, Bill Dudley and the current District 7 representative, Wengay Newton, will all be on hand. City Councilmember-elect Ed Montanari is also backing Newton.

The fundraiser comes as Newton and his opponent, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, are in their final push before the November 3 general election. Of the more than 66,000 mail ballots sent out to date, more than 10,000 have already been returned.

It’s expected that more than half of those who will vote have already returned a ballot.

The Wheeler-Brown campaign continues to focus its efforts on a grassroots campaign by frequently canvassing neighborhoods.

The contest has been a nasty one, with negative news marring both campaigns.

Wheeler-Brown is facing a formal elections law complaint filed with the Florida Division of Elections citing a series of campaign finance whoopsies including using campaign funds for personal dental work, failing to report the expense in a timely manner and failure to report in-kind contributions for several months, among other criticisms.

Newton is warding off worries that he owed more than $30,000 in back taxes that were paid off in 2012. Critics argue his campaign has not been forthcoming with what the taxes were for. The campaign has since stated they stemmed from work Newton did as a firefighter union head in which he was paid as an independent contractor.

Mail ballots can be returned to Supervisor of Elections offices up until polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day if they haven’t been mailed back prior to that. Mail ballots cannot be returned to individual precincts.

St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell and Charlie Gerdes both face challengers in this year’s election. Kornell faces Philip Garrett and Gerdes faces Monica Abbott.

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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