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Johnston certified as Brooksville council winner

BROOKSVILLE — There will be no recount. There will be no challenge of the results.

After some concern about the results in his race the day before, Joe Johnston was certified Wednesday as the winner in the race for the Group 3 seat on the Brooksville City Council.

He finished with a scant 34-vote victory over incumbent Vice Mayor Frankie Burnett. Johnston received 1,152 votes; Burnett got 1,118; and Jason Sharp collected 530 in the nonpartisan race.

"That is kind of a relief," Johnston said. "I'm just glad this part of it is out of the way."

The slim margin of victory and a ballot mix-up at one of the five Hernando precincts eligible to vote in the city election left Johnston uncertain of his win after the results came in Tuesday night.

About 50 voters at Precinct 5 — the Community Activity Center/Teen Hall — received ballots without the City Council races Tuesday morning, said Hernando Supervisor of Elections Annie Williams. Not all of the voters at that precinct are city residents.

It's unclear how many of those voters would have been able to vote for the council races. The elections chief blamed it on "poll worker error," saying they didn't check the voter's receipt closely enough and issued the wrong ballot.

Elections workers tried to track down voters who didn't receive the proper ballot but were only able to contact 10. Three returned to cast provisional ballots — one voted for Johnston, one voted for Burnett and the other didn't vote for anyone, Williams said.

That left Johnston, again, with a 34-vote advantage. Johnston won by a large enough margin that a recount wasn't necessary, Williams said.

Burnett said Wednesday he was satisfied with the process and wouldn't challenge the results.

"The voters have spoken," Burnett said. "I can honor and respect that."

In the Group 2 race, Mayor David Pugh won easily over Brooksville Housing Authority board member Yvette Taylor and businessman Cecil D. Davis IV, who unsuccessfully ran against Lara Bradburn for the Group 4 seat in 2006.

The five-member council will now include Pugh, Johnston and three others who weren't up for re-election: Joe Bernardini, Bradburn and Richard Lewis, who donated $50 to Davis' campaign in February.

Bernardini said he welcomed another chance to work with Johnston, who served 12 years on the council before term limits forced him out in 2006.

"I've never had a problem with Joe," Bernardini said. "We agree more than we disagree. Heck, he was on the council about six years ago and Joe was about the only person that I got along with."

Johnston planned to take a family vacation to North Carolina to rest up after an improbable campaign; he was the final candidate to qualify by the Aug. 29 deadline for the election.

Meanwhile, Burnett said he expected to run for a public office in the near future, maybe even the City Council.

"Politics has always been one of my ambitions," Burnett said. "I've been fighting on the other side of the dais so long to get something done, I have to be a part of it still."

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Johnston certified as Brooksville council winner 11/05/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 9:59pm]
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