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Strifler takes early lead over opponent // CLERK OF THE CITRUS CIRCUIT COURT

Betty Strifler, incumbent Clerk of the Courts, held a commanding lead over Democrat John Bowman in early election returns Tuesday night.

Strifler, a Republican, opened a wide lead and seemed well on her way to a third four-year term.

The race was comparatively mild with few issues separating the candidates, both of whom avoided directly criticizing each other.

During her campaign, Strifler stressed her credentials for the job. Strifler has a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in business administration, has held top-level positions in the Florida Association of Court Clerks and is a member of numerous local civic associations.

Strifler, 47, also cited achievements such as returning $850,000 to the county through the office's fees for child support payments and other fees.

Bowman, who resigned from the Citrus County Chronicle to challenge Strifler, had no political experience. Bowman, 51, said he was running to install a better attitude of public service to the clerk's office.

The clerk of the courts handles a wide range of record-keeping for the county government and the courts system. The clerk is paid $81,864 per year.