Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

County Commission challenger accused incumbent of "triple dipping''

NEW PORT RICHEY — Overshadowed in fundraising and name recognition, Democrat Terri Conroy has taken an unusual tack in her campaign to oust Republican Ann Hildebrand from the Pasco County Commission.

Conroy's criticism: Hildebrand, 70, receives Social Security.

Given that Hildebrand receives that check in addition to her commission pay and a pension, a Conroy flier says, "It's time to END the triple dipping of taxpayers' money!"

That Conroy chose to lob that charge in a place known for senior voters on Social Security illustrates how difficult it has been to run against the six-term incumbent.

With 24 years in office and ties to many social service agencies like the United Way, Hildebrand has built a network of supporters over decades. Hildebrand, of New Port Richey, said her experience gives her insight into the needs of the community to guide Pasco through tight budgets and the down economy.

Not to mention campaign contributions of nearly $112,000, which is 14 times what Conroy has raised for the countywide race for the District 3 seat in west Pasco.

GOP officials consider her as safe as any Republican seeking election in Pasco.

"She's out of touch," Conroy countered.

Conroy, who lost her job as permitting manager with Lexington Homes in December when the housing boom went bust, presents a contrast to Hildebrand. Conroy, 49, of New Port Richey is a single mother of two. Unlike her millionaire opponent, Conroy reported her net worth at $23,177.

She had to pay $826 in delinquent property taxes in July, and said she was getting by on $550 in unemployment compensation every two weeks.

A newcomer to politics, Conroy said her employment loss gives her a perspective on how the county should be improved to help average residents.

For example, she said the county's development review and permitting offices should be reorganized to treat businesses better. She cites a recent Urban Land Institute report that called for restructured planning to suggest the approval process for development is a tangled mess.

The county also needs to plan better for development and roads, she said.

"They found a lot of improvements that need to be made in our county. … It seems like too many times, we jump after the fact," Conroy said.

And, she notes, Hildebrand has been on the commission for 24 years as the problems developed. But Hildebrand said that report came at the board's request as a set of extra eyes. And not all of it was bad news.

"While some like to be critical, I will tell you they were extremely impressed with the new development that is occurring on the (State Road) 54 corridor. ... We've got planned communities," Hildebrand said.

But Conroy's sharpest criticism of Hildebrand has come over the commissioner's finances. Hildebrand has withstood attacks over her decision to take retirement pay while still receiving regular paychecks for being on the commission.

However, Social Security, which people accrue based on pay and age, is distinct from other taxes that pay for government services.

"It's not that it's fair — it's true," Conroy said.

Hildebrand is among thousands of government employees statewide who took a deferred "retirement" option. She signed up for the option in 2000, and "retired" in 2005, receiving a $143,000 retirement payout. But she remained in office, drawing a salary even as she collected pension checks. That produced an $80,000 salary and almost $34,000 in pension pay last year.

She had received Social Security before entering the retirement program, though. She had been a social worker and lived in Pasco 13 years before first winning office in 1984.

Hildebrand said this summer she regrets the retirement pay decision, but this week declined to volley back at Conroy.

"I don't get into that," Hildebrand said, adding she would stay "positive."

David DeCamp can be reached at or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6232.

County Commission challenger accused incumbent of "triple dipping'' 10/23/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 26, 2008 1:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    Adeiny Hechavarria is quick to make his presence felt.
  3. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. At College World Series, the save goes to an LSU dad/doctor


    OMAHA, Neb. — The father of LSU pitcher Jared Poche' helped revive an 87-year-old man who was slumped on the TD Ameritrade Park concourse with no pulse during Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

    UF’s Tyler Dyson delivers against LSU in Tuesday’s late CWS Game 2. Go to
  5. Plant City police searching for drive-by shooter


    PLANT CITY — Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a reward for information leading to an arrest in an early morning drive-by shooting outside a home.

    John J. Keeper, 49, was shot in the thigh in a drive-by shooting early Tuesday outside this home at 516 E Laura St. in Plant City. [Hillsborough County Property Appraiser]