What do you do when you inherit a Pasco Democratic Party that trails the GOP in fundraising 4-to-1, lacks enough volunteers to cover half the precincts, lags behind Republicans in registered voters and has only one person in countywide elected office?
If you're Alison Morano, you look at improving everything - then roll up your sleeves and get to work.
"I'm never going to look at somebody and say, "You need to change it,' " said Morano, explaining her decision to run for the local Democratic Party's top post. "If it needs to be changed, I'm going to try rather than expect other people to do it for me."
The 41-year-old Wesley Chapel businesswoman took the reins of the struggling party this month, edging out Realtor Jose Pena in the Democratic Executive Committee election. She replaces LaVaunne Miller, 68, who resigned last month saying, "We run out of energy sometimes."
No doubt getting the party back on track is a challenging task. But supporters say Morano has the right never-say-die attitude for the job.
Last year, as director of the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, she worked with some of the new car dealerships to make their businesses more palatable to the neighbors.
"She's just able to accomplish tasks and whatever's in her way, she's able to break through it and get it done," said Matt Murphy, Pasco's Democratic state committeeman.
Her game plan for the Democrats?
More grassroots efforts to reach voters one-on-one. Smarter campaign tactics, including use of computerized voter databases. And better use of technology, including Web site upgrades that allow people to contribute money online and download petitions to help candidates qualify for the ballot. She added both features to the Web site shortly before becoming party chairwoman.
Morano also promises a more visible presence in Pasco County.
"You'll see more of us in the media. You'll see more of us at events," Morano said. "You'll see more position statements coming out. You'll see more support for our candidates."
Morano started out as a Wall Street stock trader, then created a business with her father providing seminar training and commercial finance. In 1995 she launched her current venture, www.bworks.com, which enhances clients' Web sites so they pop up first when people punch certain terms into search engines.
In addition to her work with the chamber, Morano serves on the board for Leadership Pasco and the neighborhood board for Lexington Oaks. She is earning a degree in political science from Troy University's distance learning program. She is married to an independent film producer. In her spare time, Morano reads mysteries and scientist biographies.
Morano says she's got a dedicated crew working to boost the Democratic Party's ranks. Even before her election, Morano said, the party's volunteer coordinator, campaign coordinator and membership coordinator were mapping out strategies.
The party has candidates in the city races and the nonpartisan School Board races but is still recruiting challengers for County Commission, she said. Supporting them will be the top priority.
"The major goal is going to be, they will never say the Democratic Executive Committee wasn't there for them," Morano said.