DADE CITY — Incumbent Commissioner Scott Black, for only the second time since being elected to the City Commission in 1990, has an opponent: Angie Herrera, whose campaign is primarily being funded by the family of Dade City's mayor.
City elections are set for April 8.
Herrera, 54, a center manager for Catholic Charities, made campaign contributions an issue at a March 24 candidate forum saying she would not participate in the event because a member of the event's sponsor, the Dade City Chamber of Commerce, had contributed to Black's campaign.
Prior to walking out, Herrera confessed not to knowing much about issues facing the commission but vowed to fight for equal rights for all residents. She then called the forum "biased" and urged the public to look at a contribution from Penny Morrill, who gave Black $100.
With no exchange between the candidates at the forum, Black went on to tell the crowd he would look to encourage sensible growth while continuing to protect the small-town lifestyle that makes Dade City unique.
"I still believe I have a lot to offer the city. I've learned a lot and have a lot of institutional knowledge," Black said.
Black, 49, has a significant funding advantage over Herrera with a war chest of $8,255 as of Tuesday compared to her contributions of $2,862. Black's two biggest contributors are Hodges Funeral Home and JDR Properties of Pasco, owner of the Dade City Business Center, at $1,000 each.
On Herrera's side, reports show nearly two-thirds of her contributions — a total of $1,600 — came from the husband and son of Mayor Camille Hernandez, who won re-election unopposed. If money is any indicator, a victory by Herrera could hand significant influence to Hernandez, who already has two commissioners reliably voting with her.
In recent months, Black has been highly critical of a vote during an October workshop in which the dual role of longtime finance director/city clerk Jim Class was split into two jobs. Black was on the losing end of the 3-2 vote approved by Hernandez and Commissioners Jim Shive and Eunice Penix.
The decision led Class, who has since donated $200 to Black's campaign, to resign.