Pinellas voters give John Morroni another term

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Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni will serve another four years despite opposition from another Republican, according to unofficial election results.

With all precincts reporting, Morroni has a substantial lead over anti-rail activist Tom Rask in Tuesday’s primary election. Morroni leads Rask 66 – 34 percent.

Because there are no other challengers, Morroni won’t have to run in the general election.

Morroni has been on the board since 2000. It’s one reason Rask decided to run against him. Rask is angry that some board members, including Morroni and South Pinellas Commissioner Ken Welch, have served more than two terms.

In 1996 voters approved a measure that would impose a two-term limit, but that was later thrown out by vote. Rask calls it a moral issue and thinks commissioners should abide by the will of voters even if they don’t technically have to.

Morroni is at odds with some in his party over the Greenlight Pinellas plan that would pump an extra $100 million into the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to fund increased bus service, bus rapid transit and passenger rail. He supports the measure, citing the need for economic development. The Republican Party of Pinellas County voted to oppose the plan.

Rask vehemently opposes the plan and has been active in speaking at meetings and sending letters to the editor to local newspapers.

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.