Mid-term elections are still months away, but cities and towns in Pasco County will have a chance to choose local leaders in municipal elections in Dade City, St. Leo and Zephyrhills.
Qualifying ended Feb. 18 for municipal elections, and incumbents in those cities and town will face challengers. Winners will be decided April 8.
Residents living in those cities who want to vote must be registered no later than March 10, according to Pasco County elections supervisor Brian Corley. At the polls, voters should bring photo and signature identification, or they will be required to vote a provisional ballot.
Zephyrhills is getting a new mayor, and he didn’t even have to campaign.
Gene Whitfield, owner of Whitfield Funeral Home and Cremation Services on Gall Boulevard, will succeed Danny Burgess as mayor of Zephyrhills.
He will become the 20th mayor of Zephyrhills, and the fourth one in the last two years, following the retirement of Cliff McDuffie in 2012 and the resignation later that year of new mayor Steve Van Gorden.
The mayor position is largely ceremonial, with no voting power. The city council chooses a board president to run meetings.
Burgess chose not to run again so that he could seek a state House seat being vacated by Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
Also taking office unopposed in Zephyrhills is Ken Burgess, who was first elected in 2011 to replace Tim Urban, and didn’t draw an opponent in his first regular race in 2012.
The trip back to the city council dais won’t be so easy for Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson, as she’ll face off against community activist and retired educator Alan Knight on April 8. Wilkeson, the president and founder of WDA Design Group, was first elected in 2008.
Knight currently is the chair of the city’s parks and recreation board, and has been involved in the city’s interest in purchasing the abandoned Hercules Park on County Road 54 in recent months.
Mayor Camille Hernandez is returning for another term on the Dade City Commission after failing to attract a challenger, but her colleague Scott Black will have to convince voters to keep him in a job he’s had since 1990.
Angelica Herrera filed and qualified just before the deadline to challenge Black. She has been civically active over the years, including work in the Tommytown revitalization efforts as well as the United Latino Council. Now she’s a center manager for Catholic Charities on Meridian Avenue in Dade City, according to her election paperwork.
Hernandez was first elected to the commission in 2006, winning re-election unopposed in 2010. She became mayor in 2012, a position that is similar to a board president that is selected by the other commissioners, and where she still gets a vote.
Raphael Davis and Donna DeWitt will face off for a seat on the St. Leo town commission. DeWitt is the current incumbent in Seat 1, and has served on the St. Leo board since 1997.
Davis, who did not list an occupation in his candidate filing, lives in Lake Jovita, a prominent community in St. Leo that has pushed for de-annexation from the town in recent years.
DeWitt is a nun at Holy Name Monastery. She ran unopposed in 2012 and 2010.
James Hallett, a monk at Saint Leo Abbey, won a new term on the board unopposed, while Richard Christmas — who resigned from the commission in 2012 — will take over the commission seat currently held by Mayor John Gardner. The mayor, who will now be replaced by a commission vote at its next organizational meeting, did not seek re-election.
There won’t be any need to open the precinct in San Antonio, yet the city will have two new faces on its commission. Dennis Berberich and Anne Marie Kibbe won seats after both failed to draw challengers in their at-large election.
Returning for another term is Elayne Bassinger, after Thomas Knight filed but failed to qualify for the election.
Berberich and Kibbe will replace Roy Pierce and Richard Gates, both who chose not to run again. Pierce doubled as the city’s building and zoning commissioner, while Gates also was the waterworks commissioner. Bassinger was the commissioner over parks.
Published Feb. 26, 2014.