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Steve Kornell draws 11th-hour challenger for City Council

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell has drawn a challenger in the race for his District 5 seat. Former state House candidate Phillip Garrett began filing campaign documents with the City Clerk last week. He finished the paperwork Monday morning.

City Clerk Chandrahasa Srinivasa confirmed Garrett had completed the process.

The qualifying period for City Council candidates is today. Had no one filed to run against Kornell he would have won re-election.

Garrett formerly ran unsuccessfully against state Rep. Darryl Rouson in 2014 as a no-party affiliation candidate.

Garrett, as of the 2014 election, had worked for the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser for 15 years. He also serves on the executive board of the St. Petersburg NAACP and leads the group’s political action committee.

Garrett has a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Eckerd College in St. Pete. So does Kornell.

Garrett has been active in the community, recently attending open forums with elected officials. Most recently he spoke at one of the city’s budget listening tours where he lamented the high cost of insurance rates for city employees.

“Every time you give [city employees] 3-percent, the insurance eats it up,” Garrett said during a meeting last week where city employees came out in full force to ask for higher pay. The planned 3 percent pay increase, they argued, was a “slap in the face.”

Garrett faces a potential fundraising hurdle. Kornell has already raised more than $25,000.

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

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