1. Florida Politics

Republicans take two seats on Hernando County Commission

Published Nov. 5, 2014

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County voters gave District 2 County Commissioner Wayne Dukes a second term in a hard-fought race against challenger Jimmy Lodato on Tuesday.

In his campaign, Dukes, a Republican, focused on his fiscal conservatism and attacked Lodato for statements he made favoring a tax increase. Both Dukes and Lodato supported the failed sales tax initiative on Tuesday's ballot, and Dukes voted for the most recent increase in the property tax.

Among his accomplishments, Dukes pointed to his work to move forward with coastal projects that likely will be funded by oil spill lawsuit settlement money, and other economic development successes.

Supported by the county employees, teachers and firefighters, Lodato retired early from a career in marketing and sales and worked for a while as a rancher. He also touted his experience in economic development and understanding business.

No-party candidate Brian Moore also ran in the race.

In the District 4 commission election, Republican Jeff Holcomb easily bested Democrat Dan Oliver.

Holcomb, a software consultant, focused on growing the county's economy and making the County Commission more conservative.

Oliver, a facilities maintenance technician for the county, said he ran because he wanted to return power to the people and solve problems.

H. David Werder was a no-party candidate in the race.

School Board

Susan Duval, the retired longtime principal at Springstead High School, easily won the District 5 School Board seat over Robert Neuhausen, a parent making his third run at a board seat.

Duval said her highest priority would be restoring the school district's finances. She favored both school impact fees on new construction and the Penny for Project sales tax, which went down to defeat Tuesday.

Neuhausen had criticized the schools for being out of touch with the community and vowed to listen to parents and strengthen the district's elective offerings.

In District 1, Mark Johnson, a private investigator and Democratic Party activist, defeated insurance agency owner Don Whiting. Johnson, who lives in the Timber Pines community, harshly criticized what he called a lack of leadership on the board and the school district's poor academic performance. Whiting, who previously ran for County Commission in 2004, has a long history of community involvement.

Brooksville City Council

Brooksville voters chose Betty Erhard over William Kemerer and Vi Coogler to fill Seat 4 on the City Council.

Erhard will replace Kevin Hohn, who did not run for re-election. Erhard is a sales consultant who had previously worked for the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and county government.