DADE CITY — Voters on Tuesday gave new terms to City Commissioners Eunice Penix and Steve Van Gorden, and added political newcomer Curtis Beebe to the mix.
Turnout was high for a municipal election, according to unofficial numbers from the Supervisor of Elections Office. Nearly a quarter of the city's voters ventured to the polls, compared with 18 percent in 2006 and 14 percent in 2004.
On Tuesday afternoon, candidates stood outside the First Baptist Church — the city's only polling location — and waved signs at passing cars and trucks.
Van Gorden, a commissioner since 2004, received more than twice as many votes as his opponent, Robert Avila.
"It's a great day for Dade City," Van Gorden said. "I'm really proud to serve another four years."
This was the first year Penix, who has served on the commission since 1993, had an opponent. She beat tavern owner Mike Agnello with about 55 percent of the vote.
Penix could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.
Beebe, a computer consultant, takes over the seat of outgoing Mayor Hutch Brock, who announced in December that he would not seek re-election. Beebe waited at Brock's house Tuesday night for the election results to come in.
"I'm humbled," Beebe said. "And ready to get to work."
Beebe received almost 60 percent of the vote, edging out former city employee Jim Shive.
Beebe, Van Gorden and Penix have their work cut out for them in a city facing major budget woes. After the recent passage of a constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes, Dade City anticipates losing about $300,000 from its general fund.
Voters on Tuesday also overwhelmingly approved revisions to the city charter. The new charter puts newly elected commissioners in office the first meeting after the election — in this case, April 22. At that point, commissioners will select a mayor from their ranks.
Commissioners used to start their terms at the first meeting in May.
Commissioners earn $1,200 a year, and the mayor is paid $1,800. But the new charter allows them to set their salary by ordinance, rather than wait for a voter referendum.