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Turnout low for Oldsmar and Safety Harbor elections

It wasn't too cold.

It wasn't too hot.

It wasn't raining.

Was Tuesday so perfect it kept people at the park and away from the polls?

Whatever the reason, of Safety Harbor's 13,123 registered voters, only 2,327, or 18 percent, cast their ballots, the lowest turnout since 2005.

But maybe weather wasn't a factor at all. Maybe there was another explanation.

"It would indicate to me that the voters are happy with their city the way it is,'' said Safety Harbor City Clerk Cathy Benson. "Usually when they're unhappy, they come out to vote.''

Those who did head out to the precincts or dropped a ballot in the mailbox chose incumbents Joe Ayoub and Mary Lynda Williams and newcomer Nancy Besore to serve three-year terms on the City Commission.

Ayoub, a CPA, got 1,347 votes to win Seat 1 over Robin Fornino, a financial adviser (765 votes), and Karen Skiff, a security officer (203 votes).

"I think the voters decided to vote for the person with the best experience and who is the most qualified,'' Ayoub said. "I think the voters rewarded me for running a very positive campaign.''

Williams, a retired senior financial assistant, retained Seat 2, beating Barbara Ewert, a rehabilitation manager, 1,461-822.

"I'm so relieved it's over,'' Williams said. "It's been a lot of work. When I got in unopposed to complete Kathleen Earle's term, I said, okay, I was meant to be here. When everybody encouraged me to run for a three-year term, I said was I in it for a season or for a reason? I guess I'm here for a reason.''

Besore, a high school teacher, won Seat 3 over Glen Caristinos, a business owner, 1,568-701. The seat had been held by Nadine Nickeson, who decided not to run again.

I'm so excited,'' said Besore. "I'm very grateful to my supporters and am looking forward to the next three years working with the commission for the residents.''

The new commissioners will be sworn in Monday.

• • •

Even fewer voters turned out in Oldsmar, as 12 percent of the city's 9,215 registered voters cast their ballots.

But City Clerk Lisa Lene said the turnout was "average'' for such a small, two-candidate race.

At the end of the day, Doug Bevis, a civil engineer and country radio personality, triumphed over Sara Normandeau, who works in medical staffing, 622 votes to 463, to win Seat 3 on the City Council.

"It's an honor to be a small part of Oldsmar's government, to be part of the growth and future of Oldsmar,'' said Bevis. "You go into (a race) never knowing how it's going to turn out.''

He said he already knows the first thing he's going to do as the newest council member.

"Try and get next Tuesday's meeting changed … because it is St. Patrick's Day,'' Bevis joked.

• • •

Oldsmar voters on Tuesday also affirmed, by an 871-191 vote, an amendment to the City Charter to appoint a charter review committee at least every five years instead of three years.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Turnout low for Oldsmar and Safety Harbor elections 03/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 9:06am]
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