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Miller to take seat on Oldsmar council

She entered the race the day before the candidate qualifying deadline. But that didn't stop Janice Miller.

Miller, 60, a member of the Oldsmar Planning Board, defeated Tony Ringelspaugh by a wide margin in Tuesday's municipal election to win Seat 3 on the Oldsmar City Council.

"I am honored that the people had the confidence in me to elect me," Miller said Tuesday night. "I am thrilled to be able to represent them and I want to hear from them."

Miller received 447 votes, or 64.4 percent of the ballots cast. Ringelspaugh had 247 votes, or about 35.6 percent. Turnout was lower than expected: about 9.6 percent of the city's 7,196 registered voters cast ballots. In 2001, 24.2 percent of voters turned out.

"There hasn't been much activity," said Lincoln Klessig, an election worker at the Gull Aire Village polling place. "It's been very sparse."

For Ringelspaugh, 34, it was the second time he has lost a City Council race. He lost to incumbent Ed Richards in 1999.

"I will be back," he said Tuesday night. "I'm not going anywhere."

Seat 3, David Tilki's seat, was the only item on the ballot. Jim Ronecker, the manager of On Demand Printing, automatically won Seat 1 when incumbent Brian Michaels decided not to run for re-election and no one else filed to run.

The results mark the end of a quiet election. Both Ringelspaugh and Miller's campaign strategy relied heavily on door-to-door campaigning.

Ringelspaugh spent Election Day camped out at the Gull Aire Village precinct. He arrived at 7 a.m. and took a break only to bring his father some water. His father was campaigning for him at City Hall.

"The only thing I've had is water all day," said Ringelspaugh about 15 minutes before the polls closed. "I'm tired."

Miller spent some time at all three polling places.

"My arches are falling," she said. "I've been standing all day."

But despite their sore feet and growling stomachs, both candidates ended the day at Gull Aire Village, meeting and greeting voters.

"Fifteen minutes to go," Miller called.

A late voter pulled in the parking lot.

"You better hurry," said both candidates.

Miller said the flow of voters into polling places had been slow but steady.

"It's been like a steady drizzle," she said. "One leaves and another one comes a few minutes later."

"We voted for you," said Peggy Hoebel, 58, to Miller, as she left the Gull Aire Village precinct. "My husband called me up at work and reminded me to vote. So I worked out and came out to vote."

"I'm the last voter," said Cindy Fonda, 42, who had just finished voting at Gull Aire Village. "I came out to vote for a new City Council seat. Tony's my neighbor."

Both candidates campaigned until the end. Only after the polls closed did Miller start collecting her red and white signs. She had her evening planned: dinner at Hops Bar & Grill with her husband, Ruben Hernandez.

She got the news of her victory over barbecue ribs.

"Lisa (City Clerk Lisa Lene) called and said, "Congratulations councilwoman,' " said Miller. "I said, "Oh my Lord.' I'm honored. I'll do the very best I can to represent them."

Miller is scheduled to be sworn in at noon today in the City Council's chambers, 100 State St. W. A 33-year Oldsmar resident, she campaigned on getting residents involved in city government. An outspoken critic of the city's downtown redevelopment plan, she decided to enter the race because she wanted voters to have a choice.

But once she qualified, Miller said she was in the race to win.

"I didn't want to waste my time and energy and money," she said. "I thought if I give it everything I got, it should work out the way I wanted it to."

Miller said she was pretty confident about her chances. Many voters who left the precinct gave her the thumbs up sign.

But she said she was surprised by the low turnout.

"I've been reiterating this citizen involvement thing," she said. "I understand it was only one seat, but I would have thought there would have been more of a reason to come out."

For Ringelspaugh, a 13-year Oldsmar resident, he ran because he wanted to contribute to the city. He campaigned on reclaimed water, which he wants to see extended to every resident, and traffic on Tampa Road.

"I feel good," said Ringelspaugh, reached at his home after the results. "I'm glad it's over. I know I'll run again."

Late Tuesday night, Miller wasn't hungry anymore. But her feet were still sore. She had picked up most of her signs.

The phone had also been ringing off the hook with calls from family and friends.

"My feet are killing me," she said. "I need a foot bath."

_ Megan Scott can be reached at (727) 445-4183 or