TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online.
Friday, Oct 28, 2016
South Tampa News

Democrats seek Hillsborough elections supervisor post

TAMPA - The Democratic primary contest for supervisor of elections might be the party's most significant local race on Tuesday. The candidates: The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Rick Glorioso in November. Glorioso is term-limited after serving eight years in the state House. Latimer and Scott hope to replace Supervisor of Elections Earl Lennard, who is not seeking re-election.
Lennard was appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to replace Phyllis Busansky, who died in 2009. Scott and Latimer each said they are the best person to take over the role. "I have a passion for people — as a clergy and as a public servant," Scott said. "There is a passion to serve, a passion to meet needs, a passion to accomplish." Says Latimer: "I protected life and property for the sheriff's office for 35 years, and for the last three years I've been protecting votes — and that's what I'll continue to do." Prior to joining the elections office in 2009, Latimer worked 35 years for the sheriff's office. He helped establish a child protection program, among other accomplishments. Busansky recruited him to her office and he remains there under Lennard. In recent years, the supervisor's office has lacked the controversy that it had under past Supervisor Buddy Johnson, who oversaw several bungled elections and left the office deep in debt. In his current leadership role within the office, Latimer said, he has helped restore integrity and efficiency, resolved a $2.4 million debt and negotiated a $500,000 credit with Premier Election Solutions Inc., the provider of optical scan voting equipment. "After getting into the nuts and bolts, it was obvious this office needed to be one of transparency, one of integrity and one the voters could have confidence in," Latimer said. Scott also feels integrity within the office is crucial. "The office right now, I believe, is in disarray, and needs someone who understands the whole issue of bringing people together and protecting the integrity of the voter — the integrity of the voting process and voter outreach to the community and education," Scott said. Many Hillsborough County residents don't realize there's an election Tuesday, Scott said. He said under his leadership the office will do a better job of outreach by talking with civic groups and by connecting with younger voters by using Facebook and Twitter. Scott hasn't had experience in the elections office, but he has plenty of prior political experience. Scott was elected to the Tampa City Council in 2007 and served a four-year term. He also served on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1996 to 2006. He spent years chairing each board. In last year's mayoral election, Scott placed last among the five veteran candidates. Scott said his experience serving the city and county gives him with knowledge of the process and how to "bring people together and get things done." Elections supervisor candidates Thomas Scott Age: 58 Education: Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, University of North Florida Family: Married, three children; 11 grandchildren City of residence: Tampa Professional experience: Pastor of 34th Street Church of God Political experience: Tampa City Council District 5 (2007-2011); Hillsborough County Commission District 3 (1996-2006) Campaign website: www.thomasscottforsoe.com Craig Latimer Age: 59 Education: Bachelor's degree in Industrial Technical Education, University of South Florida Family: Married, one child; one grandchild City of residence: unincorporated Hillsborough County Professional experience: Chief of staff at supervisor of elections office since 2009; 35 years with Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Political experience: None Campaign website: www.craiglatimer.com

jpoltilove@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7691