SPRING HILL — Kathleen E. Spencer has never run for political office. She hasn't even voted in an election since registering in Pasco County in 2006.
But Spencer, a 53-year-old house cleaner and wife of a county building inspector, says she's up for a new challenge: Joining the race for Commissioner Pat Mulieri's seat.
"Well, it's time for them to see and realize what's really going on and that some of us have been left out," she said. "I want to put people back in charge."
Spencer is running as an independent. Mulieri, a Republican, faces a primary challenge from Ken Littlefield, a former state legislator.
Spencer changed her party affiliation from Democrat to "no party" on Wednesday, the same day she filed her papers to run for office, according to the Pasco Supervisor of Elections office.
To qualify, she'll need either to collect 2,944 petitions by May 17 or pay a roughly $4,000 fee by June 18.
Her husband, Charles Spencer, has worked as a Pasco County building inspector since 2003. She said part of what's driving her campaign is that her husband fears he could lose his job due to budget cuts next year.
Charles Spencer, whose county personnel file contains solid performance evaluations, is offering his wife campaign advice.
In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, Kathleen Spencer handed the phone to her husband once and consulted with him before answering several questions.
She said her top issue is health care. "That shouldn't be happening the way he wants it," she said, referring to President Barack Obama.
What can a county commissioner do about health care? Spencer paused before calling out to her husband: "What can I do about health care?"
Charles could be heard murmuring. His wife returned to the phone.
"Right now," she said, "I'm in the planning stages."
Why did she changes parties? She asked her husband about that one, too. "Because both parties have let me down," she said.
Kathleen Spencer is a Florida native, having lived mainly in Hernando and Pasco counties. She lives now on the Pasco side of Spring Hill. In June 2006, she pleaded no contest to driving under the influence and received 12 months probation, according to Hernando County court records.
Researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.