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Pasco County's municipal elections shape up as candidates meet qualification deadlines

Zephyrhills City Council member Kenneth Compton just got a new term. So did Port Richey Mayor Richard Rober.

Meanwhile, Port Richey Vice Mayor Mark Hashim wants out. And former New Port Richey City Council member Ginny Miller wants back in.

The deadline passed Tuesday to qualify for this year's municipal elections, setting up the contests voters will find on the ballot April 14.

Here's how the races are shaping up:

PORT RICHEY: Rober cinched a second term by qualifying without any opposition.

Hashim, who was elected in 2007 for his first term, chose not to file the paperwork to run again.

"I did my job and what I set out to do," Hashim said Tuesday. "I started the grant program for the CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency fund) and the utility tax."

Political newcomers Amy Scott, 46, and Bill Colombo, 52, are vying for Hashim's seat. Whoever wins will sit alongside council members Perry Bean, Steven O'Neil and Phil Abts.

Scott, who serves on a petitioners committee to create an ordinance to dissolve the city, has worked on campaigns for Abts and Bean.

New Port Richey: Only one challenger entered the race against incumbents Marilynn deChant and Judy DeBella Thomas: Former City Council member Ginny Miller.

The top two vote getters will win three-year terms.

Miller, a math teacher at Gulf High School, made an unsuccessful bid for County Commission in November, losing to Republican Jack Mariano. Before that, she served on the council for nine years, her most recent term ending last April.

Miller said Tuesday she wants to get back into the mix because she believes the council has focused so much on the downtown that it has ignored other issues, including a large number of foreclosures throughout the city as well as the planned departure of Community Hospital in 2011. "The bigger needs and problems are coming from the neighborhoods," she said.

deChant, a public relations consultant, is finishing her second term on the council.

Because of the city's term limits, this will be deChant's final consecutive run. "I have four years of experience now," she said, "and I felt that would be a good thing to continue."

Thomas, the executive director of Greater New Port Richey Main Street, is wrapping up her first term, a one-year stint.

"I still have a lot to contribute to the city," she said.

ZEPHYRHILLS: Lance Smith and City Council member Kenneth Compton were automatically elected for seats 1 and 3 respectively, as no one filed to run against them. Smith replaces Clyde Bracknell, who chose not to seek re-election after serving Zephyrhills for nearly three decades.

Carl Sullivan will challenge incumbent Manny Funes for Seat 5.

SAN ANTONIO: Three people are vying for two open seats on the City Commission. Challenger Jeff Bauroth faces incumbents Sharon Madden and Anthony "Tony" Lister.

ST. LEO: City Commissioner William Hamilton was re-elected without opposition.

Dr. Robert Courtney will challenge City Commissioner James Gajewski.

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4609.

Pasco County's municipal elections shape up as candidates meet qualification deadlines 02/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 17, 2009 9:22pm]
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