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Candidates on the ballot at the local level

The presidential election may be taking most of the attention, but local elections will also play a key role this election
Local elections matter now more than ever, Mark Amen, political science professor, said. Rightly or wrongly, local constituents expect their city and county elected officials to pursue policies that ameliorate the local impacts of the global financial crisis, federal deregulatory policies and the rise in poverty, unemployment, and other social injustices.

In Hillsborough County, there will be six different local offices on the ballots this year.

Hillsborough County Sheriff

For the position of sheriff, incumbent David Gee (R) has been challenged by a 66-year-old retiree Robert Wirengard, who has chosen to run as a nonpartisan write-in candidate.

Wirengard, whose past history with the Hillsborough Countys Sheriffs Office has included four arrests with four charges of grand theft of motor vehicle, one charge of operating a chop shop, and multiple charges of burglary.
Gee would have had to return $215,690 in campaign donations had Wirengard not made the last minute decision to run as a write-in candidate in June of this year, according to tbo.com.

Gee has held the office of Sherriff since 2004. He has lived in Hillsborough County all his life and received his bachelors in mathematics from the University of Tampa.

The sheriff is in command of about 4,000 law enforcement officers, detention deputies, and civilians and is responsible for maintaining law and order and instituting social initiatives in Hillsborough County, which includes the USF campus and the surrounding areas, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Offices website.

Hillsborough County Property Appraiser

For the position of property appraiser, Bob Henriquez (D), Ronda Storms (R), Rob Townsend and James DeMio are running for the singular open seat.

Storms surrendered her position in the Florida Senate to run against the current Property Appraiser, Rob Turner, who had been the subject of much attention after a pornography scandal, defeating him in the Republican primary.

The Republican and Democratic nominees have both hammered home the fact that they want to clean up the image of the office, taking advantage of scandal that has attracted public attention.

DeMio has promised to improve communications with individuals who are served by the Appraisers office, while Townsend has vowed to lower assessments for homeowners and make sure that large business owners pay their fair share. Storms said she will conduct audits and restore the public trust in the office and Henriquez, a Tampa native who worked as a county planner, said he wants to make sure all citizens know their rights as tax payers.

The duties of Property Appraiser consist of determining the value of all property in Hillsborough County, preparing the tax roll and determining tax exemptions for charities, religious organizations and municipal properties. Whoever wins the election will be put in charge of a staff of 130 people and an approved budget of $10.7 million.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections

Earl Lennard, the current Supervisor of Elections, chose not to run for reelection this year, leaving two candidates, Rich Glorioso (R) and Craig Latimer (D), to vie for his position.

According to Gloriosos website, he is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel who just finished his fourth term as Northeastern Hillsborough County representative. Glorioso has an A+ rating from the NRA association and a 79 percent rating from the Christian Coalition of Florida Positions.

Latimer is a retired major from the Hillsborough County Sherriffs Office and has been the elections supervisor Chief of Staff since 2009.

The Supervisor of Elections Office handles everything from voter registration initiatives to safeguarding the voting equipment and vote counting during elections.

Hillsborough County Commissioner and School Board Members

This election cycle, there are two positions open on the Hillsborough County Commissioners Board.

Al Higginbotham (R), Mark Nash (D) and Joy Green are running for County Commissioner of District 4. Margaret Iuculano (R) and Kevin Beckner (D) are running for District 6s commissioner position.

Each candidate has chosen to focus on a primary issue going into the election.

Joy Green, the non-partisan candidate, believes that the solution to problems facing District 4 is to use the office to maximize the quality of life for all citizens.

The candidates view on budgeting is what separates the two partisan candidates. While Higginbotham believes that the County Commisioners office should be streamlined and made more efficient and feasible, Nash believes that the position should be used to fix existing roads and expand employment opportunities within Hillsborough County, according to their websites.

In Distict 6, the differences between candidates on issues such as budgeting and land development are similar.

Both Iuculano and Beckner agree the budget should be streamlined and Beckner has made a proposal for his FAIR Plan which aims to limit government spending. Iuculano said he would like to focus on working more collaboratively with employers on issues ranging from shared parking and land use to economic development incentives.

The District 7 School Board incumbent Carol Kurdell will face Terry Kemple. Both non-partisan candidates will be running to be one of seven members who will deal with everything from what will be taught in Hillsborough County schools to the academic calendar.

According to her website, Carol Kurdell is a self described full-time school board member. She describes herself as a fiscal conservative, child advocate, education advocate and a teacher champion who advocates for more education opportunities for all students, while Kemples website describes him as an advocate for parents rights and encourager of active accountability, budget transparency and community collaboration.





Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Rob Turner dropped out of the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser race. That statement was incorrect. He stayed in the race and lost to Ronda Storms in the Republican primary.