Election Day profile: Lisa Wheeler-Brown

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Election Day for candidates is inherently stressful. Though candidates typically go through the day vowing to stay positive, avoiding too much speculation about uphill battles or particular challenges. It’s all about get out the vote.

That’s exactly the attitude St. Pete City Council candidate Lisa Wheeler-Brown is taking as voters trickle into polling places throughout District 7.

Not too many people are expected to vote on Election Day. Based on early turnout numbers, it could even be as low as 100 voters who cast a ballot at their precinct Tuesday. But nevertheless, Wheeler-Brown woke up with a smile on her face knowing today was the day.

“You have to remember, I announced [my candidacy] January 5,” Wheeler-Brown said. “I have been campaigning for a very long time. I was ready to get the day going and get the voters to the polls.”

Wheeler-Brown plans to split her day working phones to try to urge last minute voters to cast their ballots and at polling places hoping to earn a few extra undecided votes.

She said she was the first person at the Thomas “Jet” Jackson Recreation Center and there weren’t very many people there with her.

“It wasn’t busy at all,” Wheeler-Brown said.

And that’s not promising for turnout considering polls are busiest between 7 and 9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m. when many voters are commuting to or from work.

Wheeler-Brown did encounter one supporter while she was at the rec center that was formerly known as Wildwood.

“The lady that was there was very excited,” Wheeler-Brown said. “She came early to physically vote for me because she didn’t want anything to happen [to her vote.]”

Driving around Midtown where many of the District 7 ballots will be cast, signs told a story echoing one of Wheeler-Brown’s biggest challenges. Signs beckoning voters to support Sheila Scott-Griffin lined more yards than would probably make Wheeler-Brown supporters comfortable.

In a poll conducted in late July, Wheeler-Brown finished third in a five-way race. Will Newton topped the survey with Scott-Griffin coming in behind him. Only the top two will move on to the Primary.

“I’m focused on me and I’m focused on winning and that’s what I’m doing,” Wheeler-Brown said. “We’re out to win this .”

One way or another, Wheeler-Brown will be celebrating as polls close with supporters at Parker Financial Services in Midtown. She’s expected to address the crowd shortly after results are in sometime after 7. With mail ballots at 1,993 and voter turnout not expected to be heavy, those results will likely come quickly.

Candidates Aaron Sharpe and Lewis Stephens are also on the ballot.

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 Patch.com 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 janelle@floridapolitics.com.