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Third candidate qualifies for Hernando elections chief ballot

The November race for Hernando County supervisor of elections already promised to be hard-fought. On Friday, it got even more interesting.

Spring Hill resident Gus Guadagnino qualified for his second run at the office in three elections.

Already in the race were Democrat Annie Williams, the incumbent, and Republican Shirley Anderson, U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's district director.

And now there is Guadagnino, a well-known businessman.

Anderson said Friday she thinks Guadagnino should have listened to voters the first time.

"I can guarantee you the results won't be any different for Gus this year," she said.

She said voters sent a "clear message" when Guadagnino, after winning the Republican primary, earned 43.46 percent of the vote in a losing effort to Williams in November 2000.

Williams, seeking her third term, said she wouldn't be making any guarantees about the Nov. 4 contest.

"Elections are unpredictable," she said.

Unlike in 2000 when he ran as a Republican, Guadagnino said he is running with no party affiliation this time because he believes that to avoid all bias, real or perceived, the supervisor of elections should not be a political post.

Guadagnino acknowledged that his decision to put his name on the ballot has angered some in the GOP.

"They looked at me as a turncoat," he said.

He said that's not the case. He simply wants to see change come to America, and believes that must happen on the local level.

"The change for good isn't going to happen on the national level or the state level," Guadagnino said. "It's going to happen in Little Town, America."

That, he said, is the main reason he decided to run again. He said he loves his country and his community, and he will work as hard as he can to serve the public interest.

More than anything, he said, he'd like to bring his passion to the voters and encourage them to be more involved in campaigns and elections.

He said his platform will be similar to his 2000 campaign — bringing reform to the office and excitement to the voters.

Williams and Anderson said Guadagnino's addition to the ballot won't change their campaign strategies or their platforms, though Williams said Guadagnino could pull some votes from the Anderson camp, given his former Republican ties.

Guadagnino is the founder of Joni Industries, which markets promotional items, and two other local businesses, but he says he's not heavily involved in their operations. His children handle most of the day-to-day operations.

He said he didn't run in 2004 because he wanted to make sure his children could successfully handle the businesses.

Michael Sanserino can be reached at msanserino@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1430.

Third candidate qualifies for Hernando elections chief ballot 06/13/08 [Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2008 10:52am]
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