There was a time when elections for the post of county supervisor of elections drew little attention. The 2000 presidential election changed that. Now the public understands it is vital to have experienced professionals running elections.
That makes the race for Pinellas County supervisor of elections no contest. One candidate, incumbent Republican Deborah Clark, has experience running elections. The other candidate has none.
Clark's eight years as elections supervisor have sometimes been a bumpy ride. In 2000 and 2004, her office overlooked ballots and miscounted others. Her determination to open only three early voting sites this year and encourage mail balloting is more for her convenience than for voters.
But Clark, 59, has tightened her office's operations and replaced much of the staff she inherited. She has greatly improved the county elections Web site, enabling residents to locate their polling places, order mail ballots, see sample ballots and track elections results online. She is conversant on state election law and lobbies for election reforms in Tallahassee. She is comfortable dealing with voting technology and meets head-on the substantial demands of her job.
Her opponent, Democrat Jack Killingsworth, ran unsuccessfully for Pinellas School Board in 2006. Killingsworth, 74, has had a long career as an electrical engineer and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Standards Committee on Electronic Voting.
He said he is running for elections supervisor because he believes Clark can't manage modern voting technology and he better understands electronic equipment. Yet Killingsworth has no experience running elections or producing voting machines. Clark has worked in elections offices for almost 30 years.
For Pinellas supervisor of elections, the Times recommends Deborah Clark.