CANDIDate Conversations: Local Offices

Posted On 07/28/2020 by Matt Lettelleir
On August 18th, Pinellas County voters will select their Party’s nominees for the November General Election for County Commission, Sheriff, Tax Collector, State House and US Congress. To vote in the August primary, a voter must be registered with either the Republican or Democratic Party. All voters will be eligible to vote for in the November election.
The Pinellas County Commission decides county policies and procedures, including COVID-19 regulations and orders. They also set the property tax rate for the county and set the budget. Lastly, the Commission selects and oversees the County Administrator.
In preparation for the August 18th election and our CANDIDate Conversation events, we have compiled a brief background on candidates’ professional and educational backgrounds. We encourage you to visit all of the candidates’ websites for further information and register for our CANDIDate Conversation events to dive deeper into the topics that matter most to you.
District 7, currently represented by the retiring Ken Welch, is an a single-member seat being sought by 3 Democrat candidates. The winner will face Independent candidate Maria Scruggs and write-in candidate Anthony Hart in November.
Rene Flowers is a former St. Pete City Council member and currently serves as Chair of the Pinellas County School Board. You can visit her website here:
Wengay Newton is a also a former St. Pete City Council member and is currently representing South Pinellas, and parts of Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota Counties in the Florida House of Representatives. You can visit his website here:
Frank Peterman is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives and served as Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. You can visit his website here:
The Pinellas County Tax Collector is charged with collecting property and other taxes in the county and distributing them in accordance with the county budget. Additionally, Tax Collector offices serve as agents of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and are charged with issuing driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.
Charles Thomas is the current Tax Collector and he is being challenged by Joyell Bobala in the Republican Primary. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Joseph Saportas and write-in candidate Dan Dahlberg in November.
Charles Thomas has served as Tax Collector since 2016 after working in the Tax Collector’s office as Chief Deputy under Diane Nelson for 16 years. You can visit his website here:
Joyell Bobala is a 21 year veteran of the Tax Collectors office. You can visit her website here:
The Pinellas County Sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer in the county. The Sheriff and his deputies service all unincorporated areas of the county and all municipalities lacking city police forces. The Sheriff also oversees the county jail and juvenile detention facilities.
Bob Gualtieri has served as Sheriff since he was appointed to the role in 2011 and was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. Gualtieri will face the winner of the Democrat Primary contest between Eliseo Santana or James McLynas in November.
Eliseo Santana retired from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office after 31 years of service. You can visit his website here:
James McLynas is a former business owner. You can visit his website here:
NOTE: Candidate information for this post was collected from press reports and/or candidates’ websites.
For further information regarding this post, our Chamber’s Advocacy efforts, or our CANDIDate Conversation events, please contact our Advocacy Manager, Matt Lettelleir, at
Category: Advocacy, Featured