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Voters give Mazourek a decisive lead in race // PROPERTY APPRAISER

With fewer than half of the precincts counted, former Brooksville Mayor and City Council member Alvin Mazourek appeared headed toward a decisive victory over John Kouba on Tuesday night in the Hernando County property appraiser's race.

"I feel good," said Mazourek, 51. "I think the people looked at the qualifications and experience."

Kouba said he didn't know if running as an independent helped or hurt him. "If I lose, I wish (Mazourek) luck," he said.

Mazourek, who owns an appraisal business, advocated fair assessments countywide and stressed his qualifications and experience for the $81,000-a-year job.

He won a sweeping victory in the Republican primary against County Commissioner June Ester and former Hernando school district construction director David DeWald.

Kouba, who ran unsuccessfully for property appraiser in 1992, said he stood for the "little guy" and shunned campaigned contributions.

He questioned Mazourek's contributions from prominent property owners and greenbelt tax breaks on property owned by the Mazourek family. Mazourek said Kouba's claims were spurious.

Kouba, 42, also touted his experience, but falsely claimed in an advertisement last week that he holds a state appraiser's license. Kouba said he made an unintentional error.