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Pasco candidates want more people to register and vote

The Pasco County Supervisor of Elections race pits a Democrat against a Republican who both stress the importance of nonpartisanship in the job they hope to win.

Supervisor Brian Corley, 38, former chief personnel officer for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, was appointed to the job in January 2007 by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist as a replacement for Kurt Browning, who Crist selected to be secretary of state.

Corley is challenged by lawyer Pat Carroll, 50, who served on the Attleboro, Mass., City Council for two years in the 1980s and stresses her ability to understand state law as an asset to the position.

Both want to explore public-private partnerships to bring more people to the polls after Pasco County reported a dismal 12 percent voter turnout in the August primary elections.

Corley plans to explore partnering with gyms and local restaurants for a marketing campaign on the importance of registering and voting. Carroll wants to investigate if it's feasible to send out voter registration cards to new electric and utility customers when they sign up for services.

Corley ran four relatively hitch-free elections during his "free trial period" at the job.

That, he said, and the fact that he has voted in every election since he was 18, unlike his opponent, are two of the main differences between him and Carroll.

"This job is way more than interpreting statutes," he said, a diss to Carroll's claim that as a lawyer, she would be better prepared to read and implement state laws.

County records say that Corley has voted in every state election since he registered in 1988.

"It pains me personally when I see people who don't vote," he said.

Carroll's county election record indicates she did not vote in the presidential, initial and runoff primaries in 2000; the March 2004 Penny for Pasco sales tax vote; and the 2006 statewide primary, a governor's race. She did vote in general elections since 2000.

"I can guarantee you there was some legitimate reason that I did not anticipate and I could not get to the polls," Carroll told the Times.

She cited an instance when a frantic client called an emergency meeting one election day.

In hindsight, she said, she should have voted early or sent in an absentee ballot, two measures she would promote as supervisor of elections.

Asked to list differences between herself and Corley, Carroll questioned whether Corley was truly nonpartisan.

"He is entrenched in the Republican party," she told the Times.

She also questioned Corley's ability to handle finances.

Citibank took Corley to court in 1997 for $2,830 in unpaid debt, which Corley told the Times in 2006 he racked up paying for college. In July 1998, he fulfilled a payment plan that avoided a formal judgment against him in Pasco County Court.

Carroll said that experience and the lack of savings accounts or "rainy day funds" listed on his financial disclosure forms worried her.

"Why are people not looking more closely at this fellow's fiscal responsibility?" Carroll said. "That speaks volumes to me."

Corley finds fault with Carroll stating on her Web site that she would encourage "ordinary citizens to both vote and run for public office." He questioned her impartiality.

"I think it's well-intended but inappropriate," Corley said. "The last thing you should be involved in as the supervisor of elections is candidate recruitment."

Carroll said the statements was taken out of context.

Corley had received $17,250 in monetary contributions and $1,178 in in-kind contributions by Thursday. He loaned his campaign $1,000.

Carroll had raised $19,794 in monetary contributions, including $10,000 she loaned her campaign. She had also received $3,061 in in-kind donations.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Pasco candidates want more people to register and vote 10/19/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 9:55am]
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