On Nov. 3, 2020, the Pinellas County ballots will have more than just presidential candidates. They will be filled with questions about state amendments, Florida supreme court justices and other local Pinellas County public officials. With Eckerd College being in State House District 69, and State Senate District 24, it’s important for students to understand who and what they are voting for.
Other than the presidential race, the first thing an Eckerd voter will see is Republican Anna Paulina Luna challenging incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist for the Florida District 13 representative for the U.S. House of Representatives.
Crist's career began in the Florida State Senate in 1992, but he then moved on to becoming the Florida Education Commissioner, the Florida Attorney General, and eventually the Governor of Florida. While he took a brief break from politics following a 2010 defeat in the campaign for Florida representative, he came back in 2016 to defeat Republican David Jolly. As Governor, Crist fought for environmental protections, pushing for expanded conservation of the Everglades, and holding British Petroleum (BP) accountable for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. His goals are now to increase wages, continue protecting the environment, and push for support of seniors and veterans.
Luna was raised in an impoverished neighborhood in California, before serving for six years in the U.S. Air Force. She is now running as a republican, pushing to, “Fight back against the left’s socialist agenda.” According to a survey by Ballotpedia.com, Luna is passionate about issues such as the 2nd Amendment, immigration, the fight against socialism, and government corruption.
After that, voters will move on to a question about the race between incumbent Democrat Jennifer N. Webb and Republican Linda Chaney for the position of District 69 Representative for the Florida House of Representatives.
In 2018, Webb defeated Republican Ray Blacklidge and has been District 69 representative since then. Now in her battle with Chaney, Webb has spoken about her passion for economic recovery, quality public education, and protecting drinking water and the environment.
Her challenger, Chaney, is the former Pinellas County beach commissioner, and is now running to fight for economic repair without raising taxes, and expanding the affordability and quality of healthcare in the area.
Then the ballot focuses on county candidates.
These include the race for Sheriff between Republican Bob Gualtieri and Democrat Eliseo Santana.
The race for property appraiser between Republican Mike Twitty and Democrat Trevor L. Mallory.
The race for tax collector between Republican Charles W. Thomas and Democrat Joseph Saportas.
The race for supervisor of elections between Republican Julie Marcus, and Democrat Dan Helm.
The race for Board of County commissioners District 1 - At Large between Republican Larry Ahern and Democrat Janet C. Long.
The race for Board of County commissioners District 3 - At Large between Republican Tammy Sue Vasquez, and Democrat Charlie Justice.
The race for Board of County Commissioners District 7 - Single Member between Democrat Rene Flowers, and Non-partisan Maria L. Scruggs.
The race for School Board Member District 1 - At Large between Laura Hine and Stephanie G. Meyer.
The race for School Board Member District 7 - Single Member between Caprice Johnson Edmond, and Karl Nurse.
The ballots then move on to non-partisan questions. These contests will be seen by all voters across all precincts throughout Florida asking about whether or not Florida Supreme Court Justice Carlos G. Muñiz should be retained. This determines whether or not a judge gets to continue in their position. They then move on to asking whether or not Judges Drew Atkinson, Morris Silberman, Daniel H. Sleet, and Andrea Teves Smith should be retained.
The ballots will move on to a section describing six constitutional amendments. These amendments, according to the Pinellas County Sample Ballot, are:
No. 1 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 2: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections.
This amendment will continue the current regulations which require a Florida voter to be a U.S. citizen who is at least eighteen years of age and a permanent Florida resident.
No. 2 Constitutional Amendment Article X, Section 24: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage.
This amendment will raise the minimum wage in Florida to $10 per hour, beginning Sept. 30, 2021, and continuing to raise by $1 per hour every September until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on Sept. 30, 2026. From there on, minimum wage will be adjusted annually based on inflation starting on Sept. 30, 2027.
No. 3 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 5: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet.
This amendment allows all voters to vote for State Legislature Governor, and Cabinet in the Primary elections, regardless of political affiliation. This means that all candidates for an office appear on a ballot, and the two highest vote getters move on to the general election. If the amendment passes, Florida will no longer be a “closed primary state.”
No. 4 Constitutional Amendment Article XI, Sections 5 and 7: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
This amendment will make it so that in order for a constitutional amendment to be ratified, it needs to be approved by voters in two separate elections.
No. 5 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 4 and Article XII: Limitations on Homestead Property Tax Assessments; increased portability period to transfer accrued benefit.
This amendment will increase the period of time during which Save-Our-Home benefits can be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead, from two to three years. The Save-Our-Homes law prevents the annual increase in the assessed value of a homestead from being more than 3%. This allows property owners to pay less taxes than they would if the homestead was being appraised at full market value.
No. 6 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 6 and Article XII: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities.
This amendment allows for the homestead tax discount provided to veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities to be carried over to the spouse of a deceased veteran, provided that the spouse has legal title to, or permanently resides on the homestead.
Finally, the ballots will end with a referendum question discussing the approval of the continuation of One-Half Mill Ad Valorem Tax for School operating expenses. This referendum will determine whether or not the Pinellas County School District ad valorem millage of one-half mill per year will continue from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2025 for teacher salaries and benefits.