BROOKSVILLE — Jeff Stabins, the Hernando County commissioner in District 1, made it over the first hurdle Tuesday toward winning a second term.
Stabins edged out Michael Burmann and Jon "Jaz" Zydenbos in the Republican primary. He will face Democrat Ramon Gutierrez in the Nov. 4 general election.
In the District 3 commission race, former School Board member John Druzbick soundly defeated two fellow Republicans, Hubert "Wayne" Dukes and Charles Gaskin. He will face Democratic incumbent Diane Rowden in November.
The winner in District 5 was former Brooksville fire Chief James Adkins. He defeated fellow Republicans William "Billy" Healis and Michael Robinson, husband of former Commissioner Nancy Robinson. Adkins will take on Democratic incumbent Chris Kingsley in November.
Stabins was the only incumbent facing a challenge from his own party in Tuesday's primary election. He and the other current board members have faced biting criticism from residents over the perceived out-of-scale growth in the county budget during the recent housing boom.
In the race, Stabins pointed out that in the last three years, the commission has slashed the property tax rate by 25 percent.
Reached late Tuesday, he expressed disappointment that he couldn't top 50 percent of the votes cast, but he said he was grateful to have the chance to work toward re-election in November.
"I don't, unfortunately, feel like this is a great mandate," he said. "There is a lot of work to do going forward."
Stabins said he was disappointed by the low voter turnout but felt good about those voters who did take the time Tuesday and in the past weeks to cast ballots.
Burmann campaigned as the candidate who could fix what he called a disconnect between citizens and their government, while Zydenbos took a hard stand on spending cuts, saying another $40-million needs to be sliced from county spending.
Druzbick ran on his experience on the School Board and as a businessman and an active community leader for a variety of organizations. He has favored more efficient county operations and better use of county resources to provide needed infrastructure.
Druzbick credited his win to his government budgeting experience and his 30 years of business experience. "That's clearly lacking on the board right now," he said.
For Dukes and Gaskin, this is the second unsuccessful run for a commission seat. Dukes centered his platform on a leaner government structure, and Gaskin sought more government accountability.
Adkins, in District 5, entered the race originally because of anger over his tax bill and has focused on further tax cuts and unnecessary regulations.
"I believe in less taxes, less government and more personal freedom," he said as final voting results were tabulated and it was clear he would win the primary. Speaking of the voters, he said: "I believe they have faith in me. They know I'm an honest person."
Healis wanted government to more represent the people, while Robinson pushed for a charter government to make the county more accountable to the citizens.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.