Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

Hernando elections chief hopefuls focus on integrity, efficiency

To some, the Supervisor of Elections Office is necessary, but largely innocuous. But the two candidates looking to fill the position being vacated by retiring elections supervisor Annie Williams would strongly disagree.

Although Republican Shirley Anderson and Democrat Elizabeth Townsend share the belief that the services provided by elections office are essential to the democratic process, and that the office should be run efficiently and with integrity, the two differ on how best to do the job.

Realizing the demand for tighter fiscal constraints, Anderson, 54, has focused much her campaign message around the need to make less do more.

If elected, Anderson says, she plans to conduct a thorough review of the office and its staffing requirements to see where it would be possible to shave expenses. Her other ideas include better utilization of technology, using county employees from other departments during busy times and starting an electronic newsletter to send timely communications directly to voters.

Currently the district director for U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, Anderson isn't a stranger to politics. In her unsuccessful run for the elections office in 2008, she claimed that her opponent made mistakes that diminished voter confidence.

This year, Anderson was quick to pounce on another gaffe by Williams when the elections supervisor failed to provide correct information to School Board candidates about when their election would occur.

"Experience at doing things improperly is not the experience that I would like to see carried forward," Anderson noted in a news release following the incident.

Townsend, 39, has worked in the elections office for eight years — two of them as operations director. She touts her leadership, experience in administering 14 elections and extensive knowledge of the office's inner workings as attributes that make her the person best capable of hitting the ground running after the election.

Unlike her opponent, Townsend is a political newcomer. While she acknowledges that the office has had its share of recent embarrassments, she was quick, when asked, to distance herself from them.

"My responsibilities obviously encompass things that are part of that office, (and) it would be impossible to separate the two," Townsend wrote in an email last week. "I operate and carry out my responsibilities within the framework that the supervisor of elections sets. She runs the office."

Like her opponent, Townsend expresses a desire to run the office in a fiscally frugal manner. If elected, she promises to curb spending as much as possible without jeopardizing the integrity of the electoral process. In addition, she says she would further advance the office's use of technology and work toward increasing voter turnout through greater visibility in the community.

Although marked by few contentious issues involving overall operations of the office, the race has notably been marked by some sparks.

In August, Anderson was admonished by the elections supervisor's office for entering a polling place during the primary election and speaking with a poll worker, an action prohibited by state election statutes. Williams said records showed that Anderson, who won the Republican primary, had voted earlier in the month and had no business being inside the precinct.

Days later, Anderson retorted with a complaint of her own, claiming photos showed that Townsend's campaign-decorated vehicle had been parked within 100 feet of the county's Forest Oaks elections office on a day when early voting was taking place.

Williams said she investigated the incident with the state elections office, but found no election law had been violated. Townsend, she said, "was not a candidate on any of the primary election ballots and there was no intent to solicit votes."

The Republican Party disagreed with Williams' finding.

Anderson, who has deep Republican ties in the county, and whose volunteer campaign staff includes the father of Republican Party chairman Blaise Ingoglia, has so far raised more than $33,500 in contributions. Many of her supporters are prominent Republicans and area businesspeople.

Townsend's campaign is more grass roots oriented. Most of the nearly $24,000 she has raised has come in small donations from individual donors. In addition, she has contributed more than $5,000 of her own money.

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]

Comments
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18