Thousands of ballots already cast in Pinellas elections

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Waves of voters have already begun to cast ballots to decide the next  St. Petersburg Mayor and four City Council seats.

Requests for ballots for the at-large municipal elections — almost 91,000 that were mailed out — have started to roll back into the office of the Pinellas County Department of Elections.

Eleven percent — 9,866 ballots — of 90,943 vote-by-mail requests received through October 8 have come back, with nearly 8,000 in just the past two days.  

Mayor Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman are in a tight race that by most accounts will go down to the wire Nov. 5.

The county’s mail ballot numbers include over 28,000 sent out for a Clearwater referendum on a new Marine Aquarium. Voters there will consider changing the City Charter so officials can enter a 60-year contract to build, operate and maintain a new home for Winter the Dolphin.

If voters approve the referendum, the new aquarium complex would be located on the existing location of City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave., between Pierce Boulevard and Cleveland Street. To make room, Clearwater would tear down the three-story property to make way for the $160.5 million aquarium complex.

Although there is no decision on where to relocate Clearwater City Hall, various locations are under consideration, including a downtown fire station set for demolition. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.