NEW TAMPA — For more than two years, two factions have butted heads in Cory Lake Isles: supervisors on the developer-controlled taxing district board, and a number of residents who felt they had no say in the way their community was being run.
Police were called in to watch over meetings, ugly words were slung anonymously on message boards, and campaign fliers were distributed en masse in this 1,000-home development.
It all ended Tuesday night when three newcomers unseated the incumbents in a sweeping victory that is sure to change the direction and tone of this upscale community.
The candidates ran for individual seats but on the same ticket: the winners for change, the incumbents on tradition.
Emerging victorious were Kerri Ringhof, who defeated David Pardue for Seat 1; David Burman, who beat Roger Brown for Seat 2; and Dan Morford, who upset Suzanne Manzi for Seat 3.
Ringhof, Burman and Morford watched the results come in at Beef O' Brady's on Cross Creek Boulevard, where they celebrated after learning that each had garnered 75 percent of the votes. About 80 percent of Cory Lake Isles' 1,200 registered voters went to the polls, according to the Supervisor of Elections Office.
"It's a mandate from our community to make a change and a change for the better," Burman said.
Morford said they must now focus on healing, but admitted it will be a challenge.
"How do we unite the community?" he asked. "I wish I knew the answer to that question right now."
He described the behavior in the months leading up to the election as "ridiculously stupid."
"Nasty, in my mind, is when two entities are going at it at least halfway objectively," Morford said. "This got to the point where it was just dumb."
Ringhof agreed, saying the problem now is recovering and coming together. But she called it "a new day in Cory Lake."
"I see the forecast calling for raised home values and improved quality of life," she said.
Manzi did not return a call for comment, and Pardue and Brown could not be reached before press time.
Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at (813) 269-5312 or [email protected]