- According to unofficial results, Democrat Mariella Smith led Republican Commissioner Victor Crist by a 52-45 margin.
- Crist is unlikely to make up that shortfall with so few Election Day precincts still to be counted.
- Independent Joe Kotvas was a distant third.
- More election results HERE.
TAMPA — Hillsborough Commissioner Victor Crist, a Republican, appeared to he headed toward defeat with nearly all the vote counted.
The count showed Democrat Mariella Smith with 52 percent of the total, winning by 38,122 votes.
Independent candidate Joe Kotvas is a distant third with just over 2 percent.
The result could be significant for the Democrats. District 5 was one of two countywide seats the party targeted as it looks to win its first majority on the County Commission since 2004.
Crist, 61, is seeking his third term in office and switched from District 2 because of term limits. He raised more than $280,000, with a number of donations from the development industry.
During the campaign, Crist said the county will need his experience managing budgets, especially if voters statewide approve Amendment 1 to the Florida Constitution. The amendment would increase the homestead exemption and leave Hillsborough with about $30 million less in property taxes beginning in 2020.
In her first run at office, Smith, 64, has raised $172,000. The owner of a graphic design firm, she campaigned on tackling transportation and sprawl, although she refused to take a position on the transportation sales tax initiative.
She was boosted by contributions totaling $38,500 from the Hillsborough County Democratic Committee.
Kotvas, 75, raised just over $11,000 but gained little traction during the campaign. A former police officer and commissioner, he was convicted following a 1983 bribery scandal.
Contact Christopher O'Donnell at email@example.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times
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For school board election results check out The Gradebook.