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Janet Long elected chair of Pinellas County Commission

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners elected a new chair and vice chair for 2017 on Tuesday.

Janet Long was elected chair. Ken Welch will serve as vice chair. Both choices received a unanimous vote from the seven-member commission.

The two will serve for a year. Their terms begin in January.

Long is succeeding Commissioner Charlie Justice who served as chair for 2016. Welch will succeed Long, who is the current vice chair.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to serve on this Board of County Commissioners,” Long said. “I look forward to finding more ways to make life better for the citizens of Pinellas County in 2017. These are exciting times.”

Long, Welch and Justice, Democrats who were reelected to the commission, were also sworn in for their new terms. Republican Karen Seel, who was also reelected, was not present for the ceremony.

Long, who represents District 1, a countywide seat, was first elected to the commission in 2012. Before that, she served in the state House of Representatives from 2006 to 2012. She served on the Seminole City Council from 2002 to 2006 and as a deputy commissioner for the Florida Department of Insurance from 1986 to 1998.

Welch, who represents District 7 which covers St. Petersburg and the unincorporated Lealman area, was first elected to the County Commission in 2000. He was reelected in 2004, 2008, and 2012. Before serving on the commission, Welch spent 14 years in accounting, information technology, and financial systems administration with Florida Power Corp. (now Duke Energy), and more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience as technology manager for Welch Accounting & Tax Services, a family-owned business.

Justice represents District 3, a countywide seat. He was first elected to the commission in 2012. Seel represents District 5, a north county seat. She was served on the commission since 1999.

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