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Get the latest coverage of the 2022 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Pinellas will sue the state over county voting changes

People sit on a panel with flags behind them. Other people sit at tables in front of them with computers.
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Pinellas County Commission
Pinellas County commissioners voted Tuesday, April 26, 2022 to sue the state over a new voting law they say unfairly targets the county.

The legislature will require Pinellas County commissioners in single-member districts to run again after county maps were redrawn for redistricting.

Pinellas County commissioners voted Tuesday to sue the state over a new voting law they say unfairly targets the county.

The rule was added to the election reform law Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed.

The legislature now requires Pinellas County commissioners in single-member districts to run again after county maps were redrawn for redistricting.

It means Commissioners Karen Seel and Rene Flowers have to run again this year — even though they're halfway through their terms.

Commissioner Janet Long said it's the latest in a long line of pre-emptions by Tallahassee on local governments.

"Everyone thinks that we're suing the governor," she said during Tuesday's meeting. "We're suing the legislature — if that's what we decide to do. As a body, they cannot help themselves. It's about power. That's all it is. It's about power."

Republican activist Stacy Geier of Largo told the commission she disagreed. Since the districts were redistricted, she said all the people in the district — including those newly incorporated into that district — should be able to vote for their commissioner.

"With the districts changing, the people of those districts deserve the right to vote for their representatives," she told commissioners. "Since the redistricting would change who's being represented, it only makes sense that these commissioners would need to run for reelection."

Kathleen Peters was one of two commissioners to vote against the lawsuit. She said as retaliation, the governor could veto some of the $30 million in allocations meant for Pinellas in the state budget.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.