Jack Mariano wanted a seat on the Pasco County School Board. He collected more than 2,562 signatures to get on the ballot. He raised $2,800, took out political advertisements and even met with the superintendent to learn about the budget.
Mariano, however, forgot an important step in the process. He forgot to submit the paperwork necessary to qualify as a candidate. Friday was the deadline.
Mariano's blunder means Kathleen Wolf is automatically re-elected to the School Board's District 5 seat. Board member Jean Larkin also drew no opposition and won automatic re-election.
"I'm new at this, as this evidently shows," Mariano said just after the deadline. "I don't know how to explain it. I'm not blaming anyone but myself. I didn't know there was a deadline."
Candidates had until noon Friday to submit the final paperwork and financial statements needed to get their names on the ballot. Kurt Browning, Pasco's supervisor of elections, said his office sent each candidate an informational packet last month that outlined the paperwork that needed to be filed by Friday.
Mariano said he received the packet and read it, but failed to note Friday's deadline. He said he felt badly about the mistake.
"With all the people behind me, I'd hate to just give up," he said.
Browning's office said Mariano has no choice but to do just that.
"It's over," Browning said.
_ Kent Fischer covers education in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6241. His e-mail address is kfischersptimes.com.