Bonnie Zimmer, ex-Pasco commissioner and school board member, dies at 81
LAND O’ LAKES – Bonnie Zimmer, who served as both a Pasco School Board member and a county commissioner during her political career, died Friday at the age of 81 after a lengthy illness.
The 1990 election of Zimmer and fellow Republican Ed Collins over two entrenched Democratic commissioners became a precursor for the GOP’s dominance in Pasco County politics that would be cemented later in the decade.
Zimmer, who lost to Pat Mulieri in a Republican primary four years later, put much of her emphasis on social issues during her tenure. She routinely opposed non-controversial alcohol permits near churches an schools, unsuccessfully pitched a resolution asking commissioners to go on record favoring the return of public prayer in schools and pushed an anti-nudity proposal when T-back wearing hot-dog vendors popped up along busy roads.
The anti-nudity idea floundered after it drew the ire of the nudist communities in Zimmer’s central Pasco-based district, but Zimmer maintained a sense of humor about it. When she departed the commission in fall of 1994, she presented then-County Administrator John Gallagher with a purple and green T-back swimsuit.
As a commissioner, she also advocated for the county to purchase the multi-story Central Pasco Professional Center, which now serves as the government center for Land O’ Lakes, along U.S. 41.
“She really believed the central part of Pasco needed to be more recognized,’’ said Tax Collector Mike Fasno. “She was right. The growth there has been enormous.’’
It’s a trait she showed in her earlier elected position as a Pasco School Board member from 1972-76. At the time, Zimmer was known for promoting projects that would benefit the Land O’ Lakes community. During her term, the school district moved its headquarters to Land O’ Lakes and built the Land O’ Lakes Junior-Senior High School.
She campaigned then as someone who brought “a mother’s point of view’’ to school issues and the public service followed her bloodlines. Her daughter, Realtor Christie Zimmer, is a member of two citizen committees advising Pasco County on transportation issues and she made her own run for county commission in 2006.
After leaving public office, Zimmer remained active in civic affairs and Republican politics. She was a president of the Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce and founded and presided over the Heart of Pasco Republican Club.
Visitation will be 3 p.m. Sunday and a memorial service will follow at 4 p.m. at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 20735 Leonard Road, Lutz. Loyless Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.