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Sam Henderson to mingle with art supporters Saturday

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson will be greeting voters at Domain Home and Accessories Gallery Saturday nabbing up as many votes as he can leading up to the March 15 election.

Pottery artist Bari Precious will also be on hand at the local business supporting local arts and artists. The art walk event runs from 7-8:30 p.m. at 3129 Beach Blvd. in Gulfport.

Public appearances will be key for Henderson leading up to the election. He’s facing challenger Barbara Banno, a former City Council member and local business owner.

The race has gotten heated. Banno is running against Henderson on a platform of creating better government access for residents. She also wants to take a harder stance against St. Pete and increase advocacy for clean water after the August sewage dump into Clam Bayou.

That issue took center stage Tuesday during a council meeting in which Henderson was accused of being a bully for calling Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman a liar when she suggested that conversations have not occurred between Gulfport and St. Pete in regards to Clam Bayou. The debate turned ugly from there with Roman threatening to file a formal complaint against Henderson.

Banno weighed in on the issue the following day. Having been in the gallery during the exchange, Banno said it was telling of Henderson’s lack of leadership qualities.

She’s also lashed out at Henderson for his efforts to further equality for LGBT individuals saying that she was a leader on the issue as a City Council member while he merely followed.

As of Friday afternoon, 11 people had liked Henderson’s post linking to the event. Only six people indicated they were attending on the Facebook event page with 14 indicating they were “interested.”

Meanwhile, Banno plans to amp up her outreach efforts in the community. She had a consultant working with her for most of the campaign, but is going it alone for the rest hoping to boost her campaign with grassroots efforts. Banana took to Facebook Thursday promising to keep the spirit of openness alive by increasing the number of town hall meetings and public workshops and hold them at times more accessible to working residents.

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.

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