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Johnson, Brust head for runoff in October // CITRUS COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT

A Republican candidate was chosen and two Democrats earned runoff spots Tuesday in the race for Citrus County's first elected school superintendent in decades.

With all of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, Karen Johnson was the top vote-getter in the Democratic primary and will face Robert Brust in an Oct. 1 runoff. J. "Casey" Kearse was eliminated.

In the Republican race, Pete Kelly won more than 50 percent of the vote in handily defeating Janet Herndon and Gerald Pickett, thus avoiding a runoff.

Kelly and the winner of the Democratic runoff will compete with write-in candidate Ansel Briggs in the Nov. 5 general election.

The candidates are vying to fill the four-year, $80,269-a-year job now held by James Hughes. Hughes, who was appointed to finish the unexpired term of retired superintendent Carl Austin last year, chose not to run for the job.

Austin was never opposed at the polls during his 10{ years of service, and his predecessor, Roger Weaver, also served several terms unopposed.

On the Democratic side of the race, Johnson, 52, who decided not to seek a second term in the state senate to run for the superintendent job, has 10 years' experience on the School Board. Her focus has been on her leadership ability and her interest in making the school district more open and more of a team.

Brust, 46, had spent the past 12 years as the principal at Homosassa Elementary School and 11 years before that as the school's music teacher.

Kearse, 57, retired from the school district last year and has been working in real estate ever since.

The Republican race had pitted Herndon, the outspoken School Board member, against Kelly, a vocational teacher with 16 years on the Inverness City Council, and Gerald Pickett, an Inverness lawyer.

Much of the 47-year-old Herndon's campaign had been focused on defending her record of asking hard questions that have forced a variety of improvements in the school district's operation.

Kelly, 53, had taken exactly the opposite tack, promoting the need for unity and harmony on the School Board and between the board and the administration. He had also spoken about the need to create more vocational education opportunities for children not bound for college.

Attorney Pickett, 56, touted his various business experiences as well as teaching work he did as a professor of procurement.