CLEARWATER - The Island Estates, Sand Key and Clearwater Beach neighborhoods have traditionally had a high voter turnout and great impact on Clearwater's municipal election outcomes, and they continued to do so at last Tuesday's election.
While only 17.44 percent of Clearwater's voters cast their ballots last week, 38 percent of Island Estates, 34 percent of Sand Key and 28 percent of Clearwater Beach voters took the time to exercise their right to vote, the top three precincts in the city in terms of turnout percentage.
In the race for City Council Seat 3, Paul Gibson won the election by a citywide margin of only 141 votes. But he won the Sand Key precinct over Norma Carlough 424 to 290, Clearwater Beach by a vote of 423 to 200, and Island Estates by 529 to 356. Gibson's margin of victory in the three waterfront communities totaled 530 votes, enough to overcome the slight lead Carlough built in other precincts.
The islands also propelled the passage of Clearwater's downtown boat slip referendum, Sand Key approving by 496 to 283, Clearwater Beach by 357 to 294 and Island Estates by 560 to 383. While the 2,373 votes cast at the three island precincts were only 17 percent of the citywide total, the 453-vote margin of victory on the islands was 79 percent of the 577-vote citywide margin.
While the voters of Clearwater's island communities didn't have as great of an impact on the countywide Penny for Pinellas referendum, its margin of victory was narrower than the totals for the county. Sand Key, by a vote of 402 to 380, and Clearwater Beach, by a vote of 336 to 318, supported Penny III, while Island Estates voted it down by a vote of 477 to 473. Of Clearwater's 50 voting precincts, Island Estates was one of only six to vote against Penny III.
The Gazette's online opinion polls again proved to be good predictors of the actual outcomes in the three island precincts. The 62 percent Gibson garnered in the three island communities compared very closely with the 64 percent he earned in the Gazette's online opinion poll. 57 percent of our poll participants favored the boat slips versus the 60 percent at the islands voting booths. And while 50.75 percent of the island's voters favored Penny III, 46 percent of our opinion poll respondents supported it.