By Kyle LoJacono
Pasco County voters elected three new school board members and, in a race reflective of the national mood, ousted the only Democrat on the county commission as some 138,985 voters hit the ballot box last week.
“It was one of the smoothest Election Days we’ve had,” said Pasco supervisor of elections Brian Corley. “Things went very well and we didn’t have any malfunctions to speak of.
“Voting was steady to slow all day,” Corley continued. “We had 46 percent of registered county voters vote in this midterm. I’m always hopeful the turnout is higher. I thought we’d get about 43 percent and I’m glad I was wrong about that. I’m always disappointed when we don’t have 100 percent participation, but overall it was a good day for Pasco County.”
Republican Will Weatherford won re-election for the second time in Florida District 61 and is poised to become the youngest state speaker of the House since 1957 and the first from Pasco since 1893. Weatherford, 30, defeated fellow Wesley Chapel resident Elena McCullough with nearly 66 percent of the vote.
“I was very happy to win and also very humble,” Weatherford said. “To have the opportunity to be the speaker is a great responsibility and a great opportunity for our community and everyone in Florida. I think we’ll be able to do great things for our state.”
The district covers all of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Wesley Chapel and east Pasco along with portions of northern Hillsborough County.
Weatherford said he has three main goals while in office: to limit the scope of government, create job opportunities in both his district and across the state and create a Class A education system.
One of the more bizarre races this year was for state Senate District 12 where current Hillsborough County commissioner Republican Jim Norman took nearly 83 percent of the vote against two write-in candidates.
Norman was removed from the ballot for a short time when Republican rival Kevin Ambler sued him for not disclosing an Arkansas house on his asset form. Norman was put back on the ballot before Election Day.
District 12 covers all or most of Pasco County east of the Suncoast Parkway except for Zephyrhills and much of northern Hillsborough as well including Lutz and Odessa. In the 57 Pasco precincts in the district, 4,073 people left the option blank on their ballot. On the Hillsborough side of the district, 43,500 people left the option blank.
When the ballots that left blank the spot for the district are added in, Norman received just more than 56 percent of the vote.
For District 10, Republican Ronda Storms won over a write-in candidate. The district covers Zephyrhills and portions of Wesley Chapel.
Republican Pat Mulieri won re-election to the Pasco County commission by taking 70 percent of the vote against Clay Colson. Mulieri is also the current commission chairperson and has served since 1994.
“We moved to Pasco in 1979,” Mulieri said. “I began teaching at the PHCC. I have been a teacher all my life and I enjoy working with and assisting residents. I also love living in Pasco and I want to contribute to making this a great place for people to live, work and play. My two daughters and five grandkids also make Pasco their home.”
Mulieri represents county District 2, which covers all of central Pasco and much of Wesley Chapel. She said her biggest focus on the commission now is creating jobs.
“Pasco has a 13.1 percent unemployment rate,” Mulieri said. “For many this is the worst of times. However, the board has taken steps to reverse this. We are diligently trying to bring industry into Pasco.”
Some of the ways jobs are already coming to the area are from the building of PHCC’s Wesley Chapel Campus and Rasmussen College’s East Pasco Campus, the future Wesley Chapel Medical Center and the possibility of a hockey arena still exists. All these projects are in Mulieri’s district.
Mulieri is the fifth woman to serve on the Pasco Commission and the fourth to serve as chair.
“I just want to thank (the people) for having faith in me and giving me the chance to complete projects that I started,” Mulieri said. “I will continue to work for the citizens 24/7.”
For county District 4, incumbent Democrat Michael Cox lost to Henry Wilson Jr., who had 52 percent of the vote. The changeover means the commission’s five members are all Republicans.
Cynthia Armstrong received 56 percent of the vote to defeat Mike Ryan for the Pasco School Board District 3 spot. For District 4, Alison Crumbley won with 54 percent over Karen King. Steve Luikart won District 5 with 58 percent of the vote over Mark Swartsel.
Republican Rich Nugent won U.S. House of Representatives District 5 seat with 67 percent of the vote over James Piccillo. The district covers all of central and east Pasco County. Nugent was previously the Hernando County Sheriff.
Republican Marco Rubio is the winner of the state’s soon to be open U.S. Senate seat, defeating Gov. Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek.
Political newcomer Republican Rick Scott was declared the winner over Alex Sink in a very close election to be Florida’s governor. Scott took just less than 49 percent of the vote, while Sink got just less than 48 percent.
Republican Pam Bondi took 56 percent of the vote over Dan Gelber to become Florida’s attorney general. Republican Jeff Atwater defeated Loranne Ausley for the state’s chief financial officer with 58 percent of the vote. Adam Putnam won the race for Agriculture Commissioner, ensuring a clean sweep of the cabinet for Republicans.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.