The candidates facing runoffs for two seats on the Pinellas School Board have emerged from the Aug. 30 election season with lean bank accounts, according to the latest records from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.
Take the District 1 at-large seat. No incumbent was running, and the countywide race had four candidates. First-time candidates Joanne Lentino, a first-grade teacher at Gulfport Elementary School, and Matt Stewart, a deputy director for Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections and adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College, came out on top.
Lentino, who polled 32.39 percent of the vote, had raised $20,350 going into the election. She spent $17,932.40 and received 48,944 votes. That leaves Lentino with $2,417.60 to kick off her campaign for the Nov. 8 ballot — one that’s sure to attract more voters.
Stewart raised $26,100 and spent $25,009.21. Stewart got 30.26 percent of the vote, or 45,871 votes. He has $1,090.79 heading into the campaign for the November election.
Three candidates were on the ballot for the District 5 seat, which covers a portion of Central Pinellas, including parts of Clearwater and Largo. Incumbent Carol Cook came in first with 48.22 percent of the vote — 16,362 votes — a bit shy of the 50 percent plus one vote she needed to win re-election.
Cook had raised $17,450.74 going into the Aug. 30 vote and spent $15,110.06, leaving her with a war chest of $2,340.68.
First-time candidate Eliseo Santana narrowly beat out Indian Shores town council member Mike Petruccelli for second place by 519 votes — 9,043, or 26.65 percent, to 8,524, or 25.12 percent. Santana had raised $14,954 and spent $14,815.28, leaving him $138.72 for the upcoming campaign.