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Commission seat campaign might be race for the ages

It could prove a battle between youth and experience.

Luke A. Frazier, an 18-year-old Hernando County native, has filed to run for the District 1 County Commission seat now held by Democrat Mary Aiken, who is 76.

Frazier, who said he was a self-employed cellular phone salesman, describes himself as a staunch Republican. He supports tax cuts and allowing the private sector to assume many duties now done by county government.

Frazier said county code enforcement laws trample the Constitution and had harsh words for impact fees, which he said are too burdensome. It has gotten to the point in Hernando, Frazier said, that the people are serving a bloated government, rather than the other way around.

And the current County Commission, he said, governs in an "illegitimate" fashion.

"I think I can do a better job than anybody up there now," said Frazier, who was homeschooled.

To get to Aiken, who did not immediately return a call for comment, Frazier will have to defeat fellow Republican Rose Rocco in the August primary. Aiken herself faces a primary challenge from Democrats Joe Lemieux and Bill Fagan.

In other election news, Hernando County Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Nicolai, 51, has filed to keep the post she has held since being appointed in 1987.

A Republican, Nicolai said she has never been challenged at the polls. There have been four election cycles since Nicolai first stood for election in 1988.

"I would love to think that I have been doing a good job," Nicolai said, speculating on why she has faced no challengers. "I think another reason is that a lot of people don't understand what the clerk does."

The clerk's position, which pays $106,699 a year, is multifaceted. Duties include serving as the county's chief financial officer, keeping county records, managing the local court system and overseeing audits of county government.

Before becoming clerk, Nicolai was county finance director, a job she started in 1976.

She pointed to her experience as a major reason for voters to support her, particularly with implementation of Article V slated for July 1.

Article V will bring a broad revamping of Florida courts, with greater funding and management responsibilities going from local government to the state.

_ Will Van Sant can be reached at 754-6127. Send e-mail to vansantsptimes.com.

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