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Listening Posts: Voter Voices From Tampa Bay

As Nov. 8 draws closer -- more and more ads, polls, and political pundits are defining what the election means. WUSF News is turning to you to learn the issues that will decide your vote.

So,we set up "Listening Posts" around the Bay Area.

Our visit to Largo High School came as Pinellas Supervisor of Elections' staff registered teens eligible to vote and pre-registered students age 16 and older. The teens also got a chance to use the election equipment as they selected Largo High's 2016 Homecoming Court.

  • Segi Alickolli, high school senior first time voter
  • Dr. Bradley Finkbiner, doctorate in Education and principal Largo High
  • Aden Yacobi, pre-registered but not old enough for 2016 election

Recently, we talked with people attending the St. Petersburg Senior Expo at the Coliseum.

  • Henry Cadorette, from St. Petersburg
  • Linda Ponder from St. Petersburg
  • Lucy Shorter from St. Petersburg

Also at the Senior Expo, Medicare and health insurance weren't their only topics of concern.

  • Barbara McKiel, 64, retired computer analyst
  • Herbert Smithson, 76, originally from Syracuse but lives in Florida
  • Rose Kazi, originally from Cuba now lives in St. Petersburg

WUSF visited Largo High School where some younger voters were concerned about immigration, adopting a global perspective and a teacher called for candidates to unify voters.

  • Evelyn Ouedraogo, 17, a high school junior who immigrated from Liberia with her mother in 2004
  • Deborah Pettingill, a Largo High history teacher
  • Tim Steele, 18, a high school senior and first-time voter


WUSF News recently set up a "Listening Post" at a Rock the Vote event in Lakeland to learn the issue that will determine election choices for young voters including LGBT rights and drug treatment.

  • Jeffery Peterson, from Winter Haven
  • Cristina Bozzo, from Lakeland
  • Joe Hudson, from Lakeland


WUSF News also visited with registered voters outside the Senior Expo at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg. Health care, Social Security and income inequity were issues these voters want more details on from the candidates. And they all agreed, the campaign season is too long.

  • Betty Byrd, 74, from Pinellas County
  • Mark Bradshaw, 65, from St. Petersburg
  • Carol Disario, 80, from Pinellas Park


Although many were retired, jobs or the lack of quality jobs was a recurring concern of these older voters.

  • Bill Wagner from Clearwater
  • Larry Idoux and wife recently moved to Largo from Missouri
  • Ron Hunnewell of Zephyrhills

Additional voter voices from Largo High School, 410 Missouri Ave., Largo, FL touched on topics like economically struggling families, immigration, education and women’s rights.

  • Filiberto Delacruz, a high school senior, first-time voter
  • Austin Cox, 19, a high school senior, first-time voter
  • Largo High English teacher Heather Minichillo

WUSF recently visited with voters after a service at Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg:

  • Tamika Hughes-Leeks, an educator and mother
  • Christopher Clark, a former policeman
  • Rev. Shawn Thomas, a youth pastor

Several are concerned with issues affecting the African American community.

Previously, we stopped at Largo High School, 410 Missouri Ave., Largo, FL. The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office was there with ballots and voting equipment to help students select the 2016 Homecoming Court.

The event also familiarizes the teens with the voting process, something that studies show will make them more likely to become active voters. At the school, there was a registration table where students turning 18 by Nov. 8, 2016 could register for the election. And others who were 16 or older could pre-register for future elections.

The voices of voters and future voters we hear from:

  • Deonta West, 17, a junior who plays wide receiver and cornerback on the football team.
  • David Neverline, a freshman English teacher and baseball coach
  • Mackenzie Howard, a senior, who will be voting for the first time this November.

The issues that they care about include police brutality, terrorism and how to live with a candidate you didn't choose.

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
Quincy J. Walters is a junior at USF, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. His interest in journalism spurred from the desire to convey compelling narratives. He has written for USF’s student paper, The Oracle and is currently the videographer for Creative Pinellas. If he’s not listening to NPR, he’s probably listening to Randy Newman.