Political newcomer Jerry Milby and incumbent Jim Malcolm appeared headed toward victory Tuesday night in their bids for seats on the Hernando County School Board.
In the District 2 race, Milby, a Republican, held a commanding lead over Democrat Dominick Ruggerio Jr.
"After a lot of hard work and a great investment in the campaign, I'm very delighted with the results," said Milby, who overwhelming defeated Anna Calleri for the GOP nomination in an October runoff. "If this holds true, I look with great anticipation to serving the county and the children as a School Board member."
Milby, 48, is a real estate agent who moved to Spring Hill in 1990. The retired Army helicopter pilot and adjunct professor has been a substitute teacher and has volunteered in the county's public schools.
This was Ruggerio's first try for political office in Florida. Before he moved to Spring Hill last year, the retired bus operator was a member of the School Board in Washington Township, N.J. Ruggerio, 63, did not have an opponent in the Democratic primary.
Malcolm held a comfortable lead over opponents Lester Nichols and Mary Jo Artura on Tuesday night.
A former schoolteacher in Rhode Island, Malcolm was first elected to the District 4 School Board seat in 1992. Before serving on the board, he was a planner for the city of Brooksville and later became city manager.
Malcolm resigned as city manager after a year because Florida law said that he could not hold both that job and his School Board position. He currently holds no other job.
Malcolm, who won in 1992 by a scant two votes, was optimistic yet cautious as he waited for results at a private party late Tuesday.
"Right about now I'm feeling real good," said Malcolm, 53. "I hope that the vote stays."
Nichols, a 73-year-old retired businessman, was in second place behind Malcolm. Nichols, a Democrat, said he ran for office simply because he wanted to serve his community.
A native of Missouri, Nichols was instrumental in forming a group of retired architects and engineers who volunteered their expertise to the school district's facilities department. The group disbanded a year after it was formed in 1994.
Artura, a no-party candidate and former professional skater and travel agent, ran unsuccessfully for the School Board in 1992 and the County Commission in 1994.
The mental health technician criticized Malcolm's performance during the campaign, saying he was not fulfilling his duties.