Former state representative Peter Nehr has filed to run for the District 4 seat on the Pinellas County Commission, which is currently held by Republican Susan Latvala.
Nehr served three terms in the Florida House before being upset in 2012 by Democratic challenger Carl Zimmermann. Before serving in the Legislature, Nehr was a member of the Tarpon Springs City Commission.
Latvala is a two-term incumbent, re-elected in 2010 after defeating Democrat Bob Hackworth. During that campaign, there was some conversation that Latvala would not seek another term in 2014. Also, a case is before the Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court arguing that Latvala and other members of the County Commission are bound by term limits approved by voters.
n 1996, almost 73 percent of Pinellas voters said commissioners and constitutional officers like the sheriff and clerk of court could only serve two terms in a row.
The constitutional officers appealed and the Florida Supreme Court invalidated the vote, however in May, the Supreme Court said it made an error and that term limit votes like the one in Pinellas are constitutional.
Following the Supreme Court reversal, three Pinellas residents filed a suit to remove the four commissioners who are serving beyond two terms.
With this uncertainty, it’s not clear that Latvala will seek another term in 2014.
In addition to Nehr, Commissioner Norm Roche says he has put his Clearwater home on the market. And according to an email, he’s “eyeing a place in the East Lake area.”
In the meantime, Nehr is the only announced candidate in the field. It remains to be seen whether Nehr’s loss in 2012 was an anomaly or an indictment of a range of personal issues that bled over into his public career.
“I’m considering running in another District,” he wrote in an email to the Tampa Bay Times, but “nothing is definite.” If he did move to East Lake, he too could run for District 4.