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Suncoast PBA endorses Will Newton for City Council

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

The Suncoast Police Benevolent Association has endorsed Will Newton for St. Pete City Council District 7.

“The Suncoast Police Benevolent Association strongly endorses Will Newton,” said PBA President George Lofton. “We know that he will work tirelessly to make our city a better, safer place.”

Newton is running for the City Council seat that encompasses some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, including Midtown and Child’s Park, where relationships between residents and police have been strained for years.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of our men and women in uniform,” said Newton. “Together, we will build a more stable and brighter future for the families of District 7 and all people throughout our great city.”

The endorsement could come as a surprise to some considering his most fierce opposition, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, has worked with police for years following the murder of her son in 2008. She partnered with police to break down the community’s “no-snitch” code of silence. She’s continued that work in efforts to strengthen relationships with law enforcement in the community.

However, Newton is a retired public servant himself. He retired as a firefighter and EMT after 23 years of service and currently continues work with firefighters as a union representative.

Newton is in fierce competition with Wheeler-Brown to succeed Newton’s brother, Wengay Newton, for a seat on City Council. Wheeler-Brown has been endorsed by both major newspapers as well as two city councilmembers.

Sources close to the campaign expect other high-profile endorsements to follow in the coming weeks leading up to the August 25 primary.

In addition to Wheeler-Brown, Newton also faces Aaron Sharpe, Sheila Scott-Griffin and Lewis Stephens. All five will face off in the primary, with only District 7 voters casting a ballot.

The top two finishers will face off again in November for the citywide general election.

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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