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Mail ballots for November’s St. Pete election trickle in, leaves space for more campaigning

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Mail ballots have gone out to more than 66,000 voters for the November 3 Municipal Elections that include St. Pete’s three City Council battles and four ballot questions.

So far only 2,680 of those have been returned with less than a month to go before Election Day.

That means candidates have plenty of time to bombard registered voters who requested ballots but have not returned them. Some voters received a mailer from City Council chair Charlie Gerdes this week.

It’s the same mail that went out to more than 13,000 voters last week. It’s not clear whether the second mailing targeted a separate set of voters or was just a repeat inundation of voters’ mailboxes.

One thing is certain, it’s not surprising that Gerdes would use the same campaign mailer in a second batch. He’s trying to win re-election against his opponent, Monica Abbott, with as little funding as possible.

Campaigning has been quiet between candidates in the City’s most contentious race between Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Will Newton. Wheeler-Brown was spotted this week at a Stonewall Democrats fundraiser supporting her, Gerdes and Steve Kornell. Those are the three candidates the pro-LGBT group backed in this election.

The group recently penned a letter to Newton asking him to renounce endorsements from Republicans who have supported anti-LGBT policies or failed to support policies in favor of LGBT rights.

The letter was sent to members of the news media before it got to the Newton campaign following reports that Wheeler-Brown had possibly misused campaign funds on personal dental work, among other campaign finance reporting mishaps.

The back and forth seems to have quieted and it now appears the campaigns are focusing their efforts on canvassing neighborhoods and talking to voters.

A recent survey showed a staggering number of voters polled still had not decided who to vote for in any of the three contests. However, there were the fewest undecided voters in the Wheeler-Brown/Newton race. Most voters polled also did not know there were four ballot questions put before voters this election.

Voters can still register to receive a mail ballot at the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.

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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