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Gulfport City Council incumbent Dan Liedtke draws possible challenger

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Gulfport City Council member Dan Liedtke is up for re-election in March and it looks like he’s going to have a formidable candidate.

According to sources close to the Gulfport elections, community activist April Thanos is seriously considering running against the two-term incumbent.

Thanos is a regular at City Council meetings and a regular volunteer in the community. Thanos moved to Gulfport from Seattle Washington where she served as a program and events manager for the local Chamber of Commerce.

Prior to that she worked in a similar capacity for a private company doing non-profit management.

Despite the fact that Gulfport city elections are non-partisan Thanos is a Democrat. She’s expected to get strong party backing for her bid against Liedtke, a registered Republican.

Gulfport is a Democratic-saturated community. It’s mayor, Sam Henderson, ran successfully in 2013 as the “environmental candidate.”

The environment is likely to be a key point in the 2016 municipal election as Gulfport residents are still reeling from the massive raw sewage dump into Clam Bayou this August that led to several beach closures in Gulfport.

Liedtke has been a vocal opponent to the Rick Kriseman administration as a result of the dump and may be able to hold onto some support based on that.

However, Liedtke was also vocally opposed to the 2014 Greenlight Pinellas initiative that would have funded sweeping transit improvements. Many Gulfport residents were in favor of that referendum.

If Thanos does run the race is likely to be the only competitive race on Gulfport’s ballot. Mayor Henderson and Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman aren’t likely to draw formidable opposition.

Gulfport municipal elections coincide with the Presidential Preference Primary in March.

*A previous version of this story listed Liedtke as a one-term incumbent. The current version correctly reflects that he is currently serving his second term

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.

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