Municipal elections in Clearwater are sometimes quiet affairs that appeal to restricted consideration and disappointing voter turnout.

4 years in the past, the final time the town had a mayoral election, voter turnout reached 32%. Like this 12 months, that was a Presidential Election 12 months, with the municipal election held the identical day because the Presidential Major wherein then-President Donald Trump was the GOP nominee and now-President Joe Biden had all however secured the Democratic nomination.

With Each Trump and Biden the presumptive nominees for his or her respective events this 12 months, it stands to motive that turnout may once more land within the 30s. Nonetheless, this 12 months’s mayoral marketing campaign has been something however quiet, and the gamers on no less than one aspect are highly effective.

On the poll are Kathleen Beckman, a present Metropolis Council member, and lawyer Bruce Rector who beforehand ran unsuccessfully for Metropolis Council in 2020.

The 2 are vying to switch interim Mayor Brian Aungst Sr., who was appointed late final 12 months after the abrupt resignation of former Mayor Frank Hibbard.

Hibbard and Aungst — each Republicans — have endorsed Rector, along with about a dozen other conservative backers. Beckman, who has served on Metropolis Council since 2020, has assist from Democrats, in the meantime.

However that’s not what has made this race attention-grabbing.

Hibbard, who resigned over frustration regarding spending on a brand new Metropolis Corridor facility, filed an ethics complaint towards Beckman in early February alleging that she used metropolis assets for political achieve.

At challenge in his criticism are a sequence of emails between Beckman and numerous metropolis workers wherein she raised questions on Rector sharing info “with North Seashore residents about $60 million in funds from ‘planning’ … being allotted to deal with infrastructure wants.”

At first, Beckman solicited details about the expenditure in query, noting in emails that she needed to make sure residents had been precisely knowledgeable about metropolis enterprise that affected their properties. However Beckman composed a letter with assist from metropolis workers that was despatched on metropolis letterhead to an inventory of residents, nearly all of whom had been ladies and whose contact info had been obtained via a database utilized by the Democratic Social gathering for voter communication.

Beckman defended her actions, noting that she “rapidly pulled collectively an inventory of individuals on streets within the affected areas” from contact info she had on file. She stated she was not focusing on anybody particularly aside from those that lived within the space affected by info she had gathered.

Nonetheless, the controversy didn’t cease there. Later, Metropolis Council member Lina Teixeira stated she would not support Beckman for Clearwater Mayor.

Whereas Teixeira didn’t point out the ethics criticism in her clarification, she stated she had issues with Beckman’s skill to unify the town, pointing to a “sample of disparaging the opposite folks” she works with or needs to work with.

On the flip aspect, Beckman argues Rector is the one void moral requirements, calling the assaults towards her “disturbing campaign tactics.” She particularly referenced a letter Hibbard despatched to Clearwater residents explaining his rationale for supporting Rector. Within the letter, Hibbard wrote that Beckman “as soon as informed our former Metropolis Supervisor Invoice Horne that I used to be evil as a result of I used to be a Republican.”

Horne has since handed away and can’t validate the declare. Beckman stated the reference to the late Metropolis Supervisor is disrespectful to Horne, who she described as her “mentor throughout my early council days.”

“Mr. Rector’s disgraceful marketing campaign ways reveal an entire lack of ethics and suitability for the mayoral position,” she wrote in a press release on the time. “The poor judgment displayed by each Mr. Hibbard and Mr. Rector is unacceptable, and is extraordinarily regarding to me and lots of Clearwater residents.”

Beckman’s assertion references Hibbard’s letter, noting that it was then she “knew I needed to name Mr. Rector to deal with his false assertion and ask him why he would marketing campaign on blatant lies.”

“He didn’t settle for accountability for the statements and thought it was a part of politics,” Beckman stated.

“My competitor’s failure to even focus on these issues with me earlier than exploiting them for political achieve will not be solely inexcusable, but in addition disrespectful to the reminiscence of Mr. Horne,” she continued. “It’s evident that my opponent will stoop to any stage to safe an election victory.”

The uncharacteristically heated marketing campaign has additionally gotten costly. Rector, as of March 14, had raised nearly $133,000, whereas Beckman raised nearly $148,000.

Beckman is a Clearwater transplant. She grew up in Michigan and raised her circle of relatives — together with kids JoshuaSarah and Michael — in northern Illinois the place Beckman labored as a public highschool English and journalism instructor. She, her husband, Bryan, moved to Clearwater in 2016.

Beckman now serves as a Guardian advert Litem with the Pinellas County Courts the place she serves as a voice and advocate for kids who’ve been faraway from their properties as a result of abuse or neglect.

Rector misplaced his Metropolis Council bid in 2020, ending final in a five-way race that Scientology critic and Beckman supporter Mark Bunker in the end gained.

However he’s operating on contemporary momentum this 12 months, garnering highly effective backing from U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna; Pinellas Property Appraiser Mike Twitty; Pinellas Clerk of the Court docket Ken Burke; Pinellas Tax Collector Charles Thomas; State Lawyer Bruce Bartlett; Public Defender Sara Mollo; state Sens. Nick DiCeglie and Ed Hooper; state Reps. Kim Berfield and Berny Jacques; Clearwater Metropolis Council member David Allbritton; and Pinellas County Commissioners Chris Latvala and Brian Scott.

Polls open for voting Tuesday at 7 a.m. A listing of polling locations is on the market on the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website. Along with the Presidential Major, Clearwater Metropolis Council races for Seat 2 and 3 are also on the ballot.

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