We caught up with a few voters around The Laker/Lutz News coverage area on Primary Election Day on Aug. 23, who shared their thoughts on voting and the election. We also talked to some candidates and some supporters, to hear what they had to say.
Thinks local elections are important
James Wolfe, a 45-year-old Pasco County Sheriff’s deputy, took the time to cast his ballot on Primary Day. The Zephyrhills man had this to say: “I have five children, and they’re all in school. This (election) is predominantly local, and school boards are important, and, of course, the new tax was an important issue, too. I think it’s important, too, because — they get overlooked by the national elections and coverage, so people need to realize that it starts here.”
He supported the millage for school district salaries.
A first-time voter
Eighteen-year-old Jacob Smith, a student at Pasco-Hernando State College, was a first-time voter.
“I think it’s important to add to our democracy, especially through voting,” the Zephyrhills resident said. “To me, at least, that’s what you’re supposed to do as an American. … I feel that the local elections, like these, and then the one for governor are important — obviously (voting for) the president is important, but the states are the ones who determine what happens to us directly. As someone who has lived in Zephyrhills his whole life, that’s important to me.”
Showing support for teachers
Fifty-nine-year-old Penny Hopkins, of Wesley Chapel, is a former school district employee. She definitely wanted to make her voice known.
“I normally vote, especially in the local elections because they impact the community a little more when it comes election time. I guess voting on school board members is pretty important to me, especially since I used to work for the school system. Certainly, I was for school teachers getting much-needed raises.”
Local elections have biggest impact
Joshua Starsheil, of Wesley Chapel, said it’s important to be involved.
“Voting in the local elections is the one that most affects our lives, so I definitely want to get out to vote in them,” said the 33-year-old, stay-at-home dad.
“I’m definitely paying attention to the school board races, and taking a lot into those votes, because I have a couple of kids at home.”
Staying connected to her community
Gretchen Lasasso, a 70-year-old Wesley Chapel resident, said she likes to keep a pulse on what’s happening.
“I just like staying involved with who’s running and what’s happening, because it’s an election like this that is the most important to our community we live in,” the retiree said. “But all elections are very important. … I think (local elections) are getting more important than ever have been in the past, which is good, and which is why I get out to vote in them.”
She opposed the school millage increase.
“Well, it seems like so much money already goes to the schools, yet they don’t seem to get any better,” she said.
He’s a regular, when it comes to voting
Forty-five-old Danny Blunke, of Lutz, said he began voting a few years ago and now does so, routinely.
“Someone once told me, ‘You know, you really don’t have a voice to say (anything) unless you vote.’ So now I’m trying to learn more about voting and the issues,” the general contractor said.
“School boards are kind of important because the schools always are important and so are the kids, but also the judges and the commissioners, too … the more I vote, the more I realize that it’s elections like these that are important.”
He wants to be on the Pasco School Board
Al Hernandez, candidate for the District 1 school board seat, was at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation complex, soliciting votes. He was the top vote-getter in that contest, but didn’t secure the 50% plus 1 needed to win the election, so now faces James Washington, who came in second. They will face off on Nov. 8.
She wants to finish the job she’s started
Cynthia Armstrong, the incumbent school board member in District 3, was at the Land O’ Lakes Recreation Complex seeking support for another term.
“I’ve really enjoyed being on the school board. I believe I’ve made a difference in the students’ lives. We’ve got some good initiatives going on that I want to see to fruition. So, I’m really hoping I get a chance to do so.”
It turns out she will. Armstrong received 58.88% of the vote securing another four-year term.
Campaigning for their favorite candidates
Firefighters lined up along Collier Parkway reminding motorists it was election day. The representatives of Pasco Professional Firefighters Local 4420 of the International Association of Firefighters, endorsed a slate of candidates, including judges, state lawmakers, the governor, and candidates for Pasco County Commission. Representatives from the group have appeared repeatedly before the Pasco county board seeking more fire stations and personnel to reduce emergency response times. A number of initiatives are underway, but emergency responders have complained it has taken the county too long to address Pasco’s burgeoning growth.
Standing in the hot sun to support his son
There is a Mike Moore who sits on the Pasco County Commission, but it’s not this Mike Moore. This Mike Moore, from Gilchrist County, is the father of Patrick Moore, who was running to become a Pasco County judge.
And, he did.
His dad came to Pasco early enough to help solicit voters during Early Voting and also helped to put up signs at precincts around the county.
On Primary Day, he was holding a sign seeking support from voters.
He said the traffic had been pretty steady on Aug. 23 and there’d been a good stream of voters on the previous Saturday, during early voting.
Many of the voters he spoke with didn’t seem to have a strong preference.
“I talked to quite a few people who said they didn’t know anybody on the ballot, that they just come and pick.”
One guy told him: “I’m picking people whose signs I recognize.”
Compiled by Mike Camunas and B.C. Manion
Published August 31, 2022