Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Candidate petitions serve dual roles in Pasco commission races

As Pasco candidates try to collect enough voter signatures to get their names on the ballot, some petition efforts are turning heads for their unconventional methods.

Consider two petition efforts by County Commission candidates. Ron Oakley, a Zephyrhills citrus grower running for the District 1 seat, recently sent 30,000 two-page mailers with petition forms to homes across Pasco, a tactic that likely costs more than the standard candidate qualifying fee.

And Commissioner Jack Mariano, running for a third term in west Pasco's District 5, is using his petitions to gauge public opinion about his pet issue, eliminating the new park fees.

To qualify by petition, candidates must collect at least 2,980 signatures and pay a small fee to the supervisor of elections to check the names.

Oakley, a first-time candidate who served four years on the board of the agency known as Swiftmud, said his mailers have worked.

"I've had a lot of good comments about it," he said. "People are filling it out and sending it in."

But sending out that much direct mail isn't cheap. Sen. Jack Latvala, an adviser to Oakley opponent Commissioner Ted Schrader, said based on the size and quantity, the mailers likely cost between $14,000 and $15,000. Former Commissioner Michael Cox estimated the cost was at least $9,000.

Compare that to the $4,837 fee commission candidates can pay to bypass the petition process and qualify for the ballot.

"Some people get them one at a time," Latvala said of the petitions. "If they have enough money, they can send out a mailer."

Part of Oakley's mail piece touts the advantages of qualifying via petition. It demonstrates grass roots support, and it "will save valuable funds — always a conservative's concern!"

Oakley said the cost is worth it because the mailer also includes a biography that introduces him to voters, especially those in west Pasco who might not know him very well.

"You kind of put a story out, and you have the petition form," he said. "You do two things at one time."

He also said his strategy isn't unique. Earlier this year, Schrader mailed petition cards to registered voters.

Schrader said his advertising was on a "much smaller scale." He sent a double postcard, and his petition cards didn't include return postage. Roughly 20 percent of voters mailed cards back, he said. Total cost: about $1,500.

"It was the most cost-effective way to be able to reach out," he said.

Mariano's petition drive is also a bit unconventional. He's made his opposition to the new $2 parking fee at 11 county parks a centerpiece of his campaign, and his petition forms ask voters if they agree. The top half of the page is the standard petition, while the second half includes two questions on the fees.

Mariano tried unsuccessfully to attach the questions to a survey the county will send to residents in the spring. So, he said, "I put my own survey together."

The first half asks people whether they want to abolish the parking fee and the new $10 youth sports fee. It also asks if people want to keep the remaining two county swimming pools.

Then, Mariano asks how to pay for getting rid of the fees: reserves or a slight property tax increase — $2.12 more in taxes on a $100,000 home with standard exemptions.

Mariano hasn't dug through the responses yet but said most people he finds are against the fee. He has been pushing for the increase to the tax rate.

"I'd prefer that to pounding our reserves when you're in a down economy," he said. "I wouldn't do that in my household."

Mariano has been the lone vote against the fees several times over the past year. Schrader supports the fee, saying other counties have similar policies and that most folks prefer user fees to higher taxes.

"He's extremely passionate about it, you have to give him that," Schrader said. "It sure would be nice to move on, to be honest."

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Candidate petitions serve dual roles in Pasco commission races 12/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 16, 2011 8:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida's 'Turtle God' is ailing. What happens to his remarkable collection of specimens?

    Wildlife

    OVIEDO — In a small town about five miles from the University of Central Florida there stands a two-story yellow house built in the 1920s. A modest sign mounted on the wall next to the front door says, "Chelonian Research Institute."

    The main room at the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida. - Peter Pritchard sounds British but he's lived in Florida for five decades, running the Chelonian Institute in Oviedo Florida, which holds the world's largest collection of turtle specimens (some of them bones or shells, some of them live turtles or tortoises). Time magazine has declared him a hero of the planet and other turtle experts say he is to turtles what Dian Fossey was to gorillas. He's been instrumental in helping other species, too, including the Florida panther. He has traveled the world studying turtles.
  2. Regulator blasts Wells Fargo for deceptive auto insurance program

    Banking

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.

    Wells Fargo engaged in unfair and deceptive practices, failed to properly manage risks and hasn't set aside enough money to pay back the customers it harmed, according to a confidential report by federal regulators.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images, 2017]
  3. Top 5 at Noon: Police hunt killer 'terrorizing' Seminole Heights; Land swap could help bring Rays to Tampa

    Blogs

    Here are the top stories on Tampabay.com this afternoon.

    Aerial photo of Ybor City centered around Centro Ybor and 7th Avenue. Hoping to assemble the land for a ballpark near Ybor City and the Channel District, Hillsborough County officials could government property with landowners there.
  4. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows

    Consumer

    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

  5. Florida football has become something to be endured, not enjoyed

    College

    The Jim McElwain era at Florida is something to be endured, not enjoyed.

    Florida Gators defensive lineman Khairi Clark (54) leaves the field after the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators lost to the Texas A&M Aggies 17-16 MONICA HERNDON   |   Times
.