Incumbents sweep Pinellas School Board races

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Incumbents Linda Lerner, Terry Krassner and Peggy O’Shea easily shook off opposition in the Pinellas County School Board race.

Krassner pummeled her District 2 countywide challenger, Chris Tauchnitz, 71 to 29 percent.

O’Shea held on to her district 3 countywide seat with a commanding 65-35% lead against USF St. Pete Professor Kent Kurtis.

Lerner’s district 6 race was the closest with only a 55-45% lead over former journalist Maureen Ahern.

The district 4 seat being vacated by Robin Wikle will come down to a runoff. Ken Peluso edged out Beverly Billiris 48-40%, but since neither got more than 50% they’ll both be on the ballot again in November. John Nygren carried 13% of the vote.

Peluso is a retired Palm Harbor chiropractor who owned his own practice and is father of two. He’s served on several education boards, including as chair of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, the Florida Early Learning Advisory Council and as past chair of the Palm Harbor Chamber Education Committee and Government Affairs Committee. He has also been active on the Parent Teacher Associations at East Lake High School, Carwise Middle School and Highland Lakes Elementary. Peluso is also the past president of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce and served as the Palm Harbor Fire Commissioner from 2000-2006.

Billiris is a former mayor, vice mayor and city commissioner of Tarpon Springs. She’s a small business owner and former elementary school teacher. Her list of community service accomplishments on the Supervisor of Elections bio page is more than two dozen bullet points long and includes the Pinellas County Economic Development Advisory Council, The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the National League of Cities Economic Development Council and the Pinellas County Planning Council.

Wikle, the incumbent, endorsed Beverly Billiris.

Another school board race will also be on the November 4 ballot. Rene Flowers is being challenged by Irene Olive Cates for her District 7 seat. That race did not appear on the primary ballot because Cates is a write-in candidate.

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.