Republican Wayne Dukes ousted the sole Democrat on the Hernando County Commission in Tuesday's election, denying Rose Rocco a second term in the District 2 seat on the board.
The third try at a commission seat was the charm for Dukes, who campaigned hard on downsizing government, privatizing some functions and keeping public contracts and purchases in local hands.
"I'm very pleased. I've worked hard, but it wasn't just me,'' Dukes said as the voting results showed him with a solid lead.
"I don't say a lot but what I say I say from the heart. I offer facts and figures,'' he said. "I really think that I have something to offer this county as it is going through what it will be going through the next couple of years.''
A Hernando County native and member of the Hernando High School Class of '63, Dukes served in the Air Force during the Vietnam era and spent 32 years as a civil service employee working in civil engineering and the fire service before he retired.
Dukes, 65, has been a long standing critic of the county's public transit system known as THE Bus and has raised numerous questions about county fleet operations and maintenance.
Dukes and Rocco met once before in the 2006 Democratic primary when Rocco had switched parties after two previous losses as a Republican and Dukes was still a Democrat. He switched to Republican in 2008.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Rocco, 69, has been a Hernando resident since 1987. Before retiring, she worked in accounting, customer service and sales. She focused her campaign on her record of leadership on community and government boards but she took pride in her work with the Community Initiatives Team in south Brooksville and the Coastal Hernando Initiatives Program in west Hernando.
Rocco voiced concern about the continuing revenue shortfall and said that, with county services at stake, the commission may have to consider raising revenue.
Dukes and Commissioner Dave Russell, who won his second term unopposed, will be sworn in on Nov. 16.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.