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Lack of results doesn't stop "victory' party // TAMPA PALMS COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT

The race for three seats in the Tampa Palms taxing district appeared too close to call Tuesday night because no results were in from the district's two precincts by 10 p.m.

But that didn't stop candidates Mark Fitzpatrick, Shawn Harrison and Julie Roberson Wolfe from celebrating.

"We have quite a few bottles of champagne we haven't open yet," Wolfe said from a "victory" party at the Tampa Palms Welcome Center. "But we are hoping for a celebration."

Fitpatrick sounded even more confident.

"I would bet all the tea in China that we got two seats," he said.

While the three candidates partied, two of the trio's opponents, Bill Schneider and Mary Morton Seitz, stayed at home Tuesday night. Schneider said he was getting ready to go to bed.

Bob Doran, a neighborhood activist also in the race, spent the night at a School Board meeting. He could not reached for comment.

Most neighborhood taxing district elections are quiet, low-profile events, but the competition for three seats on the Tampa Palms Community Development District was spirited from the start.

It began in May, when Doran resigned his seat to protest a decision by the board. But he immediately stepped back in the race. Two residents who have worked with Doran _ Schneider and Seitz _ also joined the campaign.

Doran's opponents began organizing, too. The president of the neighborhood homeowner's association asked Fitzpatrick, Harrison and Wolfe to run. And in a move Florida election officials called unprecedented, the trio campaigned as a team. They opened a joint campaign headquarters, waved signs that looked similar and appeared together at teas at residents' homes. The three also raised more than $6,000, including hundreds from residents in the Reserve, the most exclusive subdivision in Tampa Palms.