Prominent Pinellas women are looking for votes — and money — for Greenlight Pinellas

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A group of leading Pinellas County women is trying to earn support for the transit referendum on the November 4 ballot in Pinellas County.

And they need money to do it.

Pinellas County Commissioners Susan Latvala, Janet Long and Karen Seel will be pitching the plan on September 9 at a fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. They’ll be addressing what the plan is and laying out why they think it’s good for the county.

Women Leaders for Greenlight Pinellas is a non-profit formed to promote the ballot measure. It would replace the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s current funding structure that comes from a portion of property taxes and instead increase sales tax from 7% to 8%. The swap would increase revenue for PSTA from about $30 million a year to $130 million.

The Greenlight Pinellas plan includes increased bus service with more frequency and more late night service as well as bus rapid transit. It also includes a passenger rail route that would connect downtown St. Pete to Clearwater through the Carillon business district. That line would eventually connect to Tampa via the Howard Franklin Bridge when it is replaced somewhere around 2025.

Greenlight Pinellas has endorsements from more than 50 business and political leaders. Some of those include Largo Mayor Pat Gerard who is running for Pinellas County Commission, the CEO of HSN, a top level executive from Raymond James, which is near the proposed rail line and former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink.

Several cities have also endorsed the plan, including St. Pete.

An opposing campaign has also been set up called No Tax for Tracks. That group argues passenger rail isn’t feasible in Pinellas County and suggests that PSTA needs to be better managed.

The Women Leaders for Greenlight Pinellas fundraiser starts at 5:30. Tickets are $25, but the group will be asking for more donations.

Reservations can be made by email Anne Drake Mullen at [email protected] by September 3.

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 [email protected]