More than 1,000 residents have already voted in the St. Pete Primary. Of the 6,223 ballots mailed to voters in District 7, 1,107 of them have been returned.
Ballots went out to 26 overseas and military voters on July 10. Another 6,100 ballots were mailed on July 21 to voters who had already requested them. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office has sent out a couple here and there since the initial mailing as voters request them.
With 15 days until Election Day the ballots returned as of August 7 account for nearly 18 percent of all those mailed. In the 2013 primary election, there were just over 19,500 eligible voters. Of those 2,980 voted by absentee ballot and 1,679 voted at the polls. Overall voter turnout in that election was 23.8 percent.
Given that absentee turnout is already nearly half of what it was in 2013, it could be a good indicator that residents in District 7 are engaged in this race.
The August 2013 primary drew above-normal turnout as voters flocked to the polls to vote on the fate of the Pier. This election contains only one race on the primary ballot and that is the District 7 City Council race between Will Newton, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Sheila Scott-Griffin, Aaron Sharpe and Lewis Stephens.
The pack of candidates is running to replace Wengay Newton, who is leaving the Council due to term limits. Newton has been a booming voice of advocacy in his district where two of the city’s poorest and most crime-laden communities lie. He’s called on council to find ways to better fund juvenile programs and led initiatives to keep young people out of jail.
Newton has also served as a check on both the Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman administrations. Voters in District 7 may be paying close attention to candidates to ensure their voices are continuing to be represented.
The election in that district also comes on the heels of a celebrated new Community Redevelopment Area covering parts of the district that could fund numerous programs in neighborhoods.
Mail ballots can still be requested through the Supervisor of Elections Office or website. The deadline to request a ballot be mailed is August 19. The ballots can be mailed back in to the supervisor’s office or returned to one of three offices throughout the county.
The closest office to voters in District 7 is the County Building at 501 First Avenue North in downtown St. Pete. There’s also a location in downtown Clearwater and in Largo on Starkey Road.