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Pinellas Realtors group backs Will Newton for City Council

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The Pinellas Realtor Organization is throwing its weight behind St. Pete City Council candidate Will Newton.

“The member-only candidate screening committee reviewed questionnaires and interviewed candidates.  There are thoughtful, qualified candidates running, but one stood out for his overall commitment to community, understanding of economic issues, and advocacy for property rights,” the group wrote in a statement.

PRO represents more than 6,500 members including Realtors and others in the industry. The group is one of Tampa Bay’s largest professional trade associations. Part of the group’s mission statement is to promote the real estate profession through political advocacy.

Newton faces four other candidates in his District 7 bid, the most formidable of which is Lisa Wheeler-Brown. The two are in a heated battle of endorsements. Wheeler-Brown is backed by both of the Tampa Bay area’s largest newspapers and two City Council members – Karl Nurse and Darden Rice.

However, Newton has been raking in his own impressive list of endorsements from the Police Benevolent Association, fire fighters groups, council member Steve Kornell and now PRO.

Wheeler-Brown has so far out-funded Newton, but has spent nearly all of her campaign funds, while Newton has had a recent surge in financing and has most of it still in the bank.

Also on the ballot are Aaron Sharpe, Sheila Scott-Griffin and Lewis Stephens. Sharpe was endorsed by City Council Chair Charlie Gerdes.

The winner in this race will replace Wengay Newton, who is term- limited out of office this year. They would represent residents in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, including Midtown and Child’s Park.

The primary election is August 25. Only voters in District 7 will vote in that election. The top two finishers will square off against each other in November in the citywide general election.

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 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

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