Annie Williams needs to perform better as Hernando supervisor of elections. Since July, her office has twice failed to do its job properly; first by failing to list candidates in the correct alphabetical order on a primary election ballot and then by leaving the Spring Hill Fire Rescue District candidates and referendum off absentee ballots mailed to some voters inside the district. In both instances, the gaffes resulted in additional costs to the public, but did not damage the integrity of the electoral process.
The errors are concerning, but do not present a strong enough case for voters to dismiss Williams' 30 years of service at the elections office including the past eight as supervisor. Our preference in the Nov. 4 election is Williams, but she shouldn't accept that as satisfaction with the status quo. Over the next four years, Williams needs to eliminate the miscues while working to modernize the office by making greater use of the Internet to disseminate information to the public and candidates alike.
Williams, 52, oversees 11 staff members, five temporary employees and 600 poll workers to collect and tabulate results from 56 precincts. She has extended voter education and public outreach programs by hiring a community relations specialist, and works with schools, Pasco Hernando Community College and homeowner associations to conduct their election of officers. Voter registration drives have been held in locations as diverse as high schools, service clubs and a fast-food restaurant.
To those who think she has a laid back approach to her job, we would point out that Williams' staff doesn't wait to be invited to conduct voter registration drives, but sometimes calls and invites themselves after learning of public events.
Williams is opposed by Republican Shirley Anderson, district director for U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and businessman Gustave "Gus'' Guadagnino, who is running as an independent.
Both have solid credentials. Anderson, 50, is a go-getter familiar with the political process from her work for Brown-Waite, first on her state Senate staff and now as the supervisor of the congresswoman's operations and constituent service in the district. She is highly critical of Williams' performance in office. But, we wonder about the effectiveness of some of Anderson's platform planks like sharing employees with other constitutional officers or establishing a volunteer elections advisory board to critique the office procedures.
Guadagnino, 54, earned this newspaper's recommendation when he ran as a Republican against Williams in 2000. At the time, we praised his extensive volunteer service to the community and his business acumen. Those characteristics haven't changed and this time he is running as an independent because he believes the job should be nonpartisan. It's a legitimate philosophy, but one that must be addressed by the Legislature in Tallahassee.
Guadagnino is passionate about wanting to improve voter registration and participation among younger people, but makes little reference to what he would do differently to administer the elections office.
The Times recommends voters re-elect Annie Williams as Hernando supervisor of elections.