Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Two Hernando County Commission GOP primaries decided, one headed to recount

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioner Jim Adkins easily won his Republican primary race Tuesday, but fellow incumbent Republican John Druzbick appeared to be headed for a recount with challenger Jason Sager.

Nick Nicholson easily won the District 1 Republican nomination.

Druzbick was in a tie with Sager when the final unofficial vote count for District 3 was posted. That means the official results will likely be close enough to trigger a mandatory recount.

Druzbick faced a feisty challenge from Sager, a purchasing manager who strongly criticized Druzbick for voting to raise the property tax rate, saying that county officials needed to find a way to make more spending cuts. Sager also voiced strong opposition to keeping Hernando's fixed-route transit system, known as THE Bus.

Druzbick, who previously had spent 12 years on the Hernando County School Board, has supported keeping the transit system as a way to provide transportation to a sector of the population that needs it, improve economic development opportunities and secure needed grants and other funding.

"We gave this everything we had,'' Sager said after final numbers were posted. "I think we've made it exciting.''

Said Druzbick: "I had a feeling it was going to be close, but not as close as it was. It's not over yet. It's very, very close, and anything can change.''

The winner of the recount will face Democrat Diane Rowden, no-party candidate Greg Sheldon and write-in Tanya Marsh in November.

In the District 1 race, with a large field of Republican candidates vying for a seat being vacated by Commissioner Jeff Stabins, Nicholson was excited to be the top vote-getter.

"I want to tell the people of Hernando County that it's an honor and a privilege that they have chosen me to represent them as the Republican candidate for District 1 seat in November,'' he said.

Nicholson, an engineer and a seven-year member of the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, was in a four-person race with Michael Burmann, a wind mitigation inspector for the insurance industry; Richard Matassa, an engineer and contractor; and Regina Werder-McGuire. Nicholson will take on Democrat Arlene Glantz, Independent Joseph Swilley and write-in candidate Jose Luiz Monegro in November.

Adkins easily beat political newcomer James "Jimmy" Lodato for the Republican nomination in District 5 and will take on Democrat Ramon Gutierrez in November.

"I guess people like a conservative on the board,'' Adkins said as it became clear he would win Tuesday night. "I think I got my message out to people. I'm not a perfect politician; no one is. . . . I do my best.''

Completing his first term, Adkins, Brooksville's former fire chief, has also staunchly opposed raising the property tax rate and has argued that the county's five constitutional officers need to cut more to help balance the county's budget.

Lodato, a retired businessman, challenged that viewpoint, saying that without stabilizing tax revenue, county services would suffer.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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