Craig Latimer deserves credit for turning one of Hillsborough's worst government operations into one of its best. • Latimer managed Phyllis Busansky's 2008 election victory over then-Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson, an incompetent and erratic leader who misplaced ballots, wasted tax money and turned the office into a political machine. As chief of staff to Busansky, and later to the current elections supervisor, Earl Lennard, Latimer brought improved professional standards. His attention to detail and insistence on keeping politics out of the office is exactly what voters should want.
Latimer, 60, a retired sheriff's major who spent 35 years in law enforcement, has the right blend of command and people skills. He brought in more training and new technology to help elections run more efficiently. He made it easier for the public to obtain information about candidates and elections. And he showed his commitment to protect the voter rolls in Hillsborough from the sloppy and error-riddled purge sought by the governor.
Republican Rep. Rich Glorioso has no real talking points beyond the unfounded claim that the elections office is not doing enough to register new voters. Gloriso, 68, voted for the elections bill that the Republican-led Legislature passed last year that increased restrictions on voter registration drives, reduced early-voting days and forced some voters to cast provisional rather than regular ballots. He looks like a termed-out legislator looking for a job, and this one is the wrong fit.
Latimer's competence, work ethic and reputation enabled him to shine under Democratic and Republican supervisors alike. He has met the increasing demand for early voting while not shortchanging those who want a convenient experience on Election Day. Latimer has restored public confidence and office morale with an impartial management style, and he understands the varied needs of this diverse county.
For Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Craig Latimer.