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Mitch Perry Report for 11.3.15 – Election Day calls for election day reform

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It’s Election Day in St. Petersburg and in several other places in Florida, as well across the nation today.

Let’s stay local for a moment. In St. Pete, there are three city council races on the ballot. The fourth was already won by Ed Montanari when a would-be opponent failed to qualify against him in District 3.

Everyone in St. Pete who wants to gets to vote in this election, regardless of where they live. That’s despite the two finalists were chosen by the local districts.

Most cities and/or counties nationally have a form of district elections, instead of having the entire community vote on them. St. Pete tries to have it both ways with all the primaries decided by the local districts. However, when it comes to actually voting on who will sit in City Hall, local control goes out the window, and the whole city decides who’s the best candidate from District 7.

It doesn’t make sense, and should be changed.

What about Tampa? I may have heard in the past from some longtime elected official about costs, but there’s no good reason why we should continue to have municipal elections in March instead of November. There have been arguments that having them in the spring (like they were this year) is better because the public isn’t cluttered by other elections going on, and can give their full attention to the election of mayor and all seven city council seats.

Well, voter turnout was a anemic 12 percent this past March.

Admittedly, only one race out of eight was remotely competitive: the intense District 6 race between Guido Maniscalco and Jackie Toledo. That ultimately went into a run-off, where Maniscalco turned around his primary “loss” and defeated Toledo.

Why not have those elections in the fall? Because it makes too much sense?

Nationally, all eyes now are on Ohio, the battleground state that could become the fifth state to legalize pot outright. Many pro-weed supporters are skeptical, since it appears large corporations will swoop in and dominate the field. That concerns people here in Florida if/when medical marijuana is legalized.

In San Francisco, Prop F goes before city voters,  which would severely restrict Airbnb-style short-term rentals. The measure pits San Franciscans who say Airbnb is chasing long-term renters out of the city against residents who say Airbnb gives them a bump in income that allows them to stay.

It’s a big deal. Airbnb is based in San Francisco,  the hub of today’s global tech boom. Some are calling Proposition F the biggest ballot test the so-called “sharing economy” has yet faced and that it will signal San Franciscans’ feelings about how their city is being transformed by such hi-tech innovations.

In other news …

With much of the national political media watching, Jeb Bush appeared at three venues throughout Florida on Monday, starting off at the intimate Tampa Garden Club in South Tampa. Calling it his “Fix-It” tour, Bush clearly knows that he’s got roads to travel if he’s going to get back in the competitive game of winning the GOP presidential contest.

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Marco Rubio finally won an endorsement from a fellow GOP senator,  Colorado’s Cory Gardner.

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House Republican Matt Gaetz has filed a bill preempting any local entity (including an agency such as Hillsborough’s Public Transportation Authority) from regulating ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

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David Jolly is calling on Hillary Clinton to formally retract recent statements she made about Veterans Administration hospitals and the quality of care that seniors have received there. Then after The Washington Post busted Clinton with two “Pinocchios” for her comments, Jolly doubled down with a new statement.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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