Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

Pasco voters cast ballots in five cities

Voters in five Pasco cities went to the polls Tuesday to select mayors and city council members.

In New Port Richey, Pasco's largest city, a veteran of city politics won the mayor's seat over an opponent also well-known to local voters.

Former Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe defeated Bob Langford, who also served several years on the City Council.

Marlowe, 60, served two terms on the City Council before taking a year off to spend time with his family and focus on his downtown business, Gulfcoast Networking. He said he wants to focus on running meetings efficiently and stepping up work sessions during which the council can brainstorm ideas on economic development and other pressing issues.

Marlowe also said he wants to focus on launching New Port Richey's business incubator and redevelopment efforts for the historic Hacienda Hotel.

He thanked Langford for running a "clean campaign" that focused on the issues and expressed excitement over getting to work.

"I'm in shock a little bit. I'm really, really excited," Marlowe said. "I think we have a lot of interesting things we can do ahead."

• • •

In Port Richey, incumbent Mayor Eloise Taylor won a narrow re-election contest against political newcomer Kathy Todd, 47, a U.S. Navy reservist.

Taylor, a 71-year-old lawyer, won a special election in 2012 after the resignation of former Mayor Richard Rober and previously served as Port Richey's mayor from 2000 to 2005. She said the city has had an unprecedented run of stability that she wants to continue.

Taylor said she plans to focus on the city running an efficient water utility, a renewed effort at dredging and improving infrastructure.

"It was a tight, long race. I am extremely gratified and honored to serve another term for the city. And I will not disappoint them in the trust the voters invested in me," she said.

• • •

Incumbent Dade City Commissioner Scott Black coasted back into office, winning with about 80 percent of the vote Tuesday.

He had an opponent for only the second time since being elected to the commission in 1990. Angie Herrera, 54, a center manager for Catholic Charities, mounted a campaign funded primarily by the family of Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez.

Black was critical of a vote by the commission — unadvertised and held during a workshop — to split the dual role of longtime finance director-city clerk Jim Class into two jobs. Black was on the losing end of the 3-2 vote approved by Hernandez, and Commissioners Jim Shive and Eunice Penix.

Black pledged during the campaign to continue sensible growth in the city while protecting its small-town lifestyle.

Hernandez won re-election unopposed.

• • •

In Zephyrhills, retired school administrator and football coach Alan Knight ousted incumbent City Council member Jodi Wilkeson.

Knight, known as "Coach" in the town where he has lived his whole life, was making his first run for office. He edged Wilkeson, an architect, collecting about 56 percent of the vote.

Knight said he was "very pleased and very humbled" by the victory and pledged to immediately put his efforts into his top priorities: supporting the city's workers, restoring Hercules Aquatic Center to a public park and overseeing controlled growth of the city.

Funeral home owner Gene Whitfield ran unopposed and was elected mayor. Incumbent council member Kenneth Burgess also did not draw an opponent and will begin another term.

• • •

The closest race of the night happened in Pasco's smallest town.

In St. Leo, population 1,419, just 115 residents voted. But the election brought a change to the town commission, as Ray Davis ousted longtime commissioner Donna DeWitt, a sister at Holy Name Monastery.

The new makeup of the commission holds major implications for the future of the town. Davis, 77, and two other commissioners live in the gated Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club community, where a small percentage of homes lie within St. Leo's boundaries. The rest are in unincorporated Pasco County, a situation that has saddled town residents of Lake Jovita with extra taxes for, they argue, no extra services.

Davis, who edged DeWitt by just four votes, said he ran to bring more representation for his neighborhood to the board. A bill being considered by the Legislature could allow Lake Jovita to de-annex from St. Leo. If it fails to pass, however, the new majority on the commission could potentially act to dissolve the town.

On Tuesday, Davis said he plans to continue the push to de-annex but has no desire to break up St. Leo.

"Our interest has always been to de-annex, but let me make it clear it is not my intention to try to dissolve the town," Davis said.

Incumbent Commissioner James Hallet and former Commissioner Richard Christmas won seats unopposed.

• • •

In neighboring San Antonio, three candidates also won unopposed: current Commissioner Elayne Bassinger, retired businessman Dennis Berberich and Anne Kibbe, a professional development director at Saint Leo University and a local artist.

Times staff writer Molly Moorhead contributed to this report.

 
Comments
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

WASHINGTON ó A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA ó A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Gulfport candidates draw stark contrasts

GULFPORT ó One candidate is a plain-spoken, straightforward technology consultant who preaches "conservative fiscal responsibility" and votes Republican in national elections.The other is a self-proclaimed "progressive liberal" who practices law, pro...
Published: 02/23/18
William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

In the aftermath of the Broward County high school shooting, gun rights issues have jumped to the forefront of local legislative races.Democratic challengers are calling out incumbents in Tampa legislative seats on their past stances on gun control."...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Published: 02/22/18
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Published: 02/22/18
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Published: 02/22/18
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Published: 02/22/18
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Published: 02/22/18
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Published: 02/22/18