Today is Election Day where Florida will elect a governor, an attorney general, a chief financial officer and an agriculture commissioner among others. Locally, however, voters will have to decide on representatives in Tallahassee, as well as who will represent their interests on the county commission.
In last week’s print edition of The Laker/Lutz News, we offered an election primer, which you can read by clicking here. But do you want to know more?
Here is a collection of stories related to the various candidates and government leaders The Laker/Lutz News has published over the past year, both in print, and online. We’ve covered all the races extensively, and provided some government news at the same time, which helped earn us the state’s best local government reporting coverage this past year by the Florida Press Association.
Did we miss a story? Feel free to search the site using our internal engine using key words that most interest you, and chances are, we’ve covered it.
Be sure to keep reading our site tonight as we provide up-to-the-minute coverage of the election, before we break it all down in the Nov. 12 print editions of The Laker/Lutz News.
Scott wants closer look of Ebola threat (10/26)
Although one nurse already under quarantine feels the measures are too restrictive in other parts of the country, Gov. Rick Scott has issued an executive order that could go as far as putting people under quarantine he feels is at high risk for Ebola.
Crist has slim lead in Saint Leo poll (10/23)
With a less than two weeks until voters have to make a final decision on who they should send to (or keep in) Tallahassee, a new poll from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows Democrat Charlie Crist with a slight lead over incumbent Republican Rick Scott.
Crist campaign gets Pasco County boost (10/16)
Mike Fasano has made no secret his dislike for Gov. Rick Scott. But now he’s taking that opposition to television. The Charlie Crist gubernatorial campaign has released a new commercial featuring the Pasco County tax collector and former state legislator, taking a shot at Scott while publicly endorsing Crist, who Fasano calls “a good man.”
Browning parts from Scott, stands by Common Core Standards (10/2)
Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning is standing by the Common Core State Standards, despite a recent decision by Gov. Rick Scott to put the kibosh on the state’s participation in a consortia developing assessments for those standards.
Lopez-Cantera holds no punches against Crist (10/2)
Carlos Lopez-Cantera is Florida’s second-in-command behind Gov. Rick Scott, but there are still pockets of the state he has only heard about.
Fact Check: Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s campaign visit to Zephyrhills (9/30)
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera made a campaign stop on behalf of Gov. Rick Scott in Zephyrhills Sept. 22, speaking in front of the Conservative Club of East Pasco.
Local projects spared from Scott’s veto pen (6/2)
Gov. Rick Scott left nearly $69 million of this year’s state budget on the cutting room floor, but various projects throughout Pasco and Hillsborough counties were given a reprieve.
Pasco’s free lunches take to the road (7/3)
It’s hard to imagine getting through most days without that noontime break for lunch. That packed sandwich, frozen entrée, or maybe even a quick trip to a local eatery, is something many people take for granted each day. But for 36,000 students in the Pasco County school district, that trip to the cafeteria may be the only nutritious meal they have all day, paid for through federal tax dollars.
Private businesses don’t have to open records to public (6/19)
While government typically hires its own people to perform various functions, there are many times when officials contract with private companies to get that work done. But does that mean the records of those businesses are now public record, like they are for the government? The answer is no, Attorney General Pam Bondi has decided.
Bondi saves Fasano’s prescription drug program with $2M pledge (5/5)
Every year since Gov. Rick Scott took office, Mike Fasano says he’s had to fight to keep the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program alive.
Local congressmen support president’s ISIL plan (9/18)
In a rare move, the U.S. Congress supported an initiative by President Obama Wednesday, voting to authorize limited military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or more commonly known as ISIL. Despite the U.S. House approving the measure 221-192, the area’s two local Republican congressmen are still saying they’re not happy with how Obama is handling the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Local congressional districts should remain unchanged (8/7)
Florida lawmakers are back in Tallahassee for a special session this week after a judge in Leon County declared the boundaries for two Congressional districts were unconstitutional.
Cusp of history: Pasco leads way to amend Constitution (1/15)
It’s nearly impossible to get Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree on anything these days, but a state senator from Pasco County might have a way to bring them together — even if it’s to campaign against his plan.
STATE LEGISLATURE RACES
Buy local? Not state House political candidates (11/2)
They have both championed jobs and money to flow into their district in Pasco County, but are two politicians seeking a place in Tallahassee practicing what they’re preaching?
Burgess: There’s no place like home … rule (10/23)
Danny Burgess was nervous as he straightened his tie and tried to review in his head everything he was going to say. It was his first debate in his race for a seat on the Zephyrhills City Council, and he had an uphill battle to convince older voters that electing an 18-year-old to represent them was the right way to go.
Burgess won’t defend Duke Energy, despite donation (10/9)
A state regulatory agency ordered the company to refund $54 million to customers last week, yet many Duke Energy customers remain unhappy about being charged for $3.2 billion in failed nuclear power plant projects. And one candidate for the Florida House is feeling the heat.
From teacher to candidate, Ledbetter just can’t say no (7/31)
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And when there’s a need, there’s Beverly Ledbetter. The retired educator has made Dade City her home since the days of Richard Nixon, inspiring thousands of students at Pasco Junior High School and later Pasco High School for more than three decades. Along the way, Ledbetter found herself in the most unexpected jobs, whether it be coaching the school’s soccer team, or helping educators through her work with the teachers’ union.
Express route to downtown Tampa in jeopardy, HART says (7/24)
The number of people who depend on HART’s Route 51X connecting Pasco County to downtown Tampa is dwindling. And so is the organization’s money. So it’s probably no surprise to some of the remaining riders that officials with Hillsborough Area Regional Transit want to make some significant changes to the route, possibly removing the express route altogether. But at the very least, adding some local stops to finally bring such mass transit service to the New Tampa area.
Legg, lawmakers build path to collegiate high schools (6/26)
High schools have come a long way in preparing students for schools, with Florida especially hanging its hat on dual enrollment opportunities that allow many juniors and seniors to earn college credit before receiving their high school diploma.
Paperwork snafu costs Diaz chance for Tallahassee (6/20)
Danny Burgess no longer has to worry about a primary battle in his quest to succeed Will Weatherford in House District 38.
PHSC project one of Florida TaxWatch’s ‘turkeys’ (5/27)
Will Pasco-Hernando State College get that performing arts center it has been hoping for? Not if the governor is paying attention to political activist group Florida TaxWatch.
Winners and losers from tough Tallahassee session (5/23)
Amphibians like frogs and toads can create thousands of tadpoles each season, but only a few actually survive to become adults just like their parents. That could be the perfect way to describe how lawmaking works in Tallahassee. Hundreds of bills are introduced during each session of the Florida Legislature, but very few survive.
Danish pushing Scott to sign child welfare law (5/6)
State Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, is urging Gov. Rick Scott to sign a bill into law he says will help strengthen the speed and quality of child abuse and neglect investigations in the state. Danish is pushing S.B. 1666, which includes parts of a House bill he introduced this year, and other child welfare initiatives. The bill quickly made it way through both chambers, receiving no dissenting votes in either the House or the Senate.
Future of Pasco lives and dies with municipal airports (4/17)
The expansion of State Road 56 into Zephyrhills could be key to a major economic boom for Pasco County, and two candidates seeking to replace state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, in Tallahassee agree state-level leadership must be in place to make sure it happens.
Burgess invites Tampa mayor to rediscover Wesley Chapel (4/11)
Danny Burgess has just a few more days as mayor of Zephyrhills before he goes full-time into a state House campaign. But before he goes, he has a message for Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn: Wesley Chapel is no longer a “bedroom community.”
Lawmakers propose a little help at the gas pump (3/20)
There are more than 9,000 gas stations in Florida, but only 350 of them offer any type of help for someone who might not be able to pump their gas on their own. Two lawmakers, however, are looking to change that — and are using Hillsborough County as a model.
Eastern Time, Central Time … Florida Time? (1/30)
Spring forward. Fall back. Using the seasons as a guide, Americans have used those expressions to figure out when they should set their clocks back an hour, or forward an hour, to switch between standard time and daylight saving time.
Burgess eyes Tallahassee, but path may not be easy (12/11)
Although there always was a chance he could run for re-election, Danny Burgess knew he had just a short time as mayor of Zephyrhills when he was elected unopposed earlier this year. He will step down from that office in April with an eye on a much bigger prize: replacing Will Weatherford as the area’s state representative in Tallahassee.
PASCO COUNTY COMMISSION RACE
Moore, Remsberg spending money outside Pasco (11/3)
Bringing money into the county is something politician after politician has brought to campaigns and local government for years, and the Pasco County Commission race between Mike Moore and Erika Remsberg has been no different.
Left Behind: Bus services screeches to a halt on Monday (10/16)
Monday was Columbus Day, a holiday with federal status, but one that’s not recognized by many employers, including state and even Pasco County officials. Yet, many offices in the county were closed, including Pasco County Public Transportation, while the employees from those departments attended a daylong retreat and appreciation day.
Mulieri endorses new replacement, crosses party lines (10/16)
No one could ever accuse Pat Mulieri of simply following the herd. Two months ago, she took a stand in the Republican primary, endorsing underdog Bob Robertson from a group of candidates looking to replace her on the Pasco County Commission.
Moore raises $34K in two weeks, but is it too much? (10/10)
A huge $22,500 haul from developers and real estate professionals over the last two weeks has given Pasco County Commission candidate Mike Moore his best fundraising week of the campaign, raising a whopping $34,250.
Both want jobs, but disagree on how to get them (10/9)
One of the biggest challenges facing the Pasco County Commission in recent years is how to create more jobs here, and not force nearly half the population to travel elsewhere to find work. It’s likely a problem that won’t be fixed over the next four years, but that hasn’t stopped the two candidates looking for a seat on the commission to share their ideas on how it might happen. They are just quite different.
Partisan politics infest county commission race (10/2)
It’s been four years since a Democrat has served on the Pasco County Commission, but Erika Remsberg hopes to change that with just one election in November. However, she has a formidable opponent in the form of Republican Mike Moore, who not only has out-fundraised her 19-to-1, but seems to be the shoo-in to replace the retiring Pat Mulieri in District 2.
Littlefield joins forces with Moore in commission race (9/25)
They may have been foes during the primary, but former state Rep. Ken Littlefield has taken sides in the November election, joining the campaign of Republican candidate Mike Moore in his efforts to replace the retiring Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission.
Moore tops $100,000, makes district race most expensive (8/22)
With just days before voters will choose just one of three candidates to represent the Republican ticket in the Pasco County Commission District 2 race, Mike Moore will clearly take the fundraising title after a final push this week put him over $100,000.
Moore brings big voice to Pasco, but is ready to listen too (8/21)
Money talks, especially in a political campaign. And with nearly $100,000 at his disposal throughout his primary campaign, Mike Moore has had a pretty loud voice.
Let them go? (8/7)
It pretty much started when John Gallagher was caught in heavy traffic on Interstate 75. The morning rush is exactly that, the morning rush. But Gallagher, then the Pasco County administrator, realized that these were primarily people who lived in his county, but were heading south to work jobs in Hillsborough and even Pinellas counties.
Remsberg ready to give commission a much-needed intervention (7/31)
The first step in finding out who will replace Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission begins at the Aug. 26 primary. There voters will choose between three politically focused men — Ken Littlefield, Mike Moore and Bob Robertson — to represent Republicans in the November election.
Commission candidate among those appointed to planning council (4/1)
Michael Moore is one of six appointments announced Monday by Gov. Rick Scott to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Moore, who is seeking Pat Mulieri’s seat on the Pasco County Commission, is the owner of VR Business Sales/Mergers & Acquisitions of Wesley Chapel. He was appointed for a term that began Monday, and would end in October 2015.
GOP commission candidates debate policy for the first time (3/13)
He served eight years in the Florida House, a few weeks on the state’s Public Service Commission, and some additional time working in Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration. So why would Ken Littlefield, who is approaching his 70th birthday, want to try once again to replace Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission?
OTHER ELECTION NEWS
Pasco, Hillsborough offers free rides to polls (11/3)
Want to vote, but not sure how to get there? Well, whether you live in Pasco County or Hillsborough, a chance to cast a ballot is just a free bus ride away.
Pasco gets 25 percent head start into Nov. 4 (11/2)
Early voting in various places around Pasco County ended Saturday, and although there’s still room to receive more mail-in ballots on Monday, county elections supervisor Brian Corley has to be happy with the turnout so far.
Political mailer pits neighbor versus neighbor (10/30)
A political mailer sharing the voting habits of neighbors might not be a new trick for the 2014 elections, but it’s one that has some residents questioning how much of their personal information should be made public.
Strong early voter turnout so far in Pasco (10/30)
Brian Corley likes what he’s seeing for the 2014 election so far. As of 4 p.m. Thursday, more than 21 percent of registered voters in Pasco County have dropped a ballot in the voting box, and there’s still two full days of early voting left.
Inaccurate campaign fliers confusing voters (9/29)
Thousands of voters in Pasco County and across the state opened their mailboxes this weekend to find a flier from the Gov. Rick Scott campaign telling them their absentee ballots should have arrived. Yet, there were no absentee ballots waiting for them.
Voters speak their mind on the primary election (8/26)
Despite the best efforts of election officials to get people out to the polls for the Aug. 26 primary, turnout — at least in Pasco County — is likely to be below 15 percent.
Campaign Crunch: Politicians reveal where their dollars are coming from (8/14)
Erika Remsberg has not raised a lot of money for her bid to replace Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission — and she never expects to.
Voters are mad, and it could affect turnout this November (7/3)
There’s one question Susan MacManus gets more than any other as we head into a contentious election season. And despite her long and impressive credentials as a political scientist, even she can’t answer it.