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Oldsmar campaigns far from hot

Peel the paint off Rosemary Wiseman's campaign signs, and you will find the names of past City Council candidates underneath. Check Clem Johnson's campaign account and you will find one contribution, for just $10.

Ask Gary Cohn if the voters he has talked to are fired up about any issues, and he will tell you: Nope, it's a quiet race.

"They seem pretty pleased about the way things are going," Cohn said Tuesday. "It's a very non-political election."

Wiseman, Johnson and Cohn are running for the only open seat on the City Council. The city has seen its share of nasty campaigns in the past, but so far this is not one of them.

The three candidates are running shoestring campaigns and, for the most part, aren't criticizing each other. Although none has run for office before, they all say they are enjoying themselves.

"I'm having a ball," said Johnson, a 78-year-old retiree. "You know, my adrenaline has picked up since I got into this."

Because there aren't any issues that have the voters steamed up, and the candidates aren't well-known political figures, none has piled up the kind of bankroll that could finance an expensive campaign.

That's why Wiseman, 38, is recycling campaign signs used by council members Earl Halle and Dotty Lee and former mayoral candidate Jon Macdonald. Her husband paints over the old messages and puts the new one on.

She has recruited a relative with a home computer to make up her campaign fliers and pedals her red bicycle all over town to pass them out.

Cohn, 39, holds down two jobs and said he hasn't had much time to go around knocking on doors. "I'm not really sure that interests the voters," he said.

He is counting on a lot of people showing up at the campaign forum sponsored by the Greater Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce, scheduled Feb. 26.

Cohn hasn't even gotten his campaign signs up yet, even though the March 10 election is just a month away. The signs should start popping up around the city this weekend, he said.

Both Cohn and Wiseman work during the day _ Cohn as a teacher at Safety Harbor Middle School and Schiller International University in Dunedin, and Wiseman as an administrative assistant in the financial department of A.C. Nielsen Research in Dunedin.

But Johnson, who tested circuit boards for Honeywell in Boston before retiring, has plenty of time to knock on doors and chat with the voters about their concerns. It's a job he has done before, working for other candidates.

"I went all over the city with Dotty Lee," he said. "Finally she said, "Clem, I've got to sit down.' And I said, "I'll give you two minutes.'


But now he is going solo, talking up his own campaign. He jokes about his age and worries about his hearing, but is determined to let the voters share some of the fun he is having.

"They come to the door, and I say my piece," Johnson said. "Then I say, "Have a good weekend and I hope you win the Lotto.' That gets a laugh."