Election 2014: Unusually quiet

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By Martin Steele and Bob Reichman


You won’t have to worry about seeing too many roadside election signs this year. As a matter of fact, you could consider it highly unusual to see any as Sumter County local elections are almost barren of challengers for local offices.
The fall election season is rapidly approaching for Sumter County voters with state primaries set for Aug. 26 and the General Election on Nov. 4.
While the General Election ballot will offer voters a number of choices in state level offices, there are very few candidate selections to make in county and city government. For the most part, incumbents go back for another term with no opposition in most local elections.
The lack of participation in this year’s election even has Supervisor of Elections Karen Krauss at bit surprised.
“It’s one of the quietest election years I’ve ever seen since I’ve been here,” she said, and that’s been a good while. Krauss was elected to  office in 2000.
Despite a small ballot, Krauss said she’s been busy talking to clubs and groups about this year’s election.
“People say they are disappointed with the lack of candidates but I’ve been telling them it’s still an important election even though it’s not huge.”
Another concern for Krauss this year is trying to make sure that absentee voters have their correct addresses on their ballots. “We’re getting some back because they are undeliverable.”
Krauss is advising voters to make sure their address is correct on their absentee ballot. If not, call the election office at 569-1540
In the meantime, here’s how things measure up for Sumter city elections:

Wildwood voters won't have to choose any candidates because there is no opposition for commission seats. But, the General Election in November will give them an opportunity to approve or reject a proposed charter amendment that would impact the make up of the commission and the way members are elected.  The amendment would also change the mayor's seat from elected to an appointment of one of the commissioners.
In Wildwood, Mayor Ed Wolf, Group 1, Commissioner Pamala Kaye Bivins, Group 2, and Commissioner Don Clark, Group 4, all return to office for another 4-year term.
 As in Wildwood, there are no city contests for Bushnell voters to decide. Incumbents Mayor Bil Spaude, Seat 1 and  Council Member Warren Maddox, Seat 3, return to office for four-year terms along with political newcomer Karen Davis, Seat 5.
Center Hill
In the Center Hill Council race, Tonota Parker, Seat 1, and Ralph Barry Sr., Seat 3, are unopposed and will continue for another term.  There is one race in Center Hill. Incumbent Jack Nash will face Delilah Celina Deleon in a contest for Seat 5. There seats also have four-year terms. That race will be on the November ballot.
Coleman's election is scheduled for Dec. 2, with the candidate qualifying period running from 1 p.m., Oct. 13, to 12 p.m., Oct. 17.  The mayor's seat, currently held by Milton Hill, Council Seat 2, by Mary Bigham, and Council Seat 4, by Charles Felton, will be up for election.
Webster does not have any elections scheduled for this year.  Three commission seats will open for election in 2015.
County Commission
You can just forget about going to the polls for any Sumter County government races. There will be no election for county seats this year due to a lack of competition.
Incumbent County Commissioners Garry Breeden, Bushnell, District 4, and Doug Gilpin, Wildwood, District 2, will return for four-year terms without oppostion.
School Board
Incumbent Sumter County School Board Member Haydn L Evans,  District 1,The Villages, and  Member Kathie L Joiner, District 5, Bushnell,  are unopposed for another four-year term. They will be joined on the board by new member David A. Williams, District 3, Oxford, who is also unopposed.
Circuit Court judge
In area races, four candidates are vying for the circuit judge post for the Fifth Judicial Circuit, Group 3.  The Aug. 26 ballot for this non-partisan race includes incumbent Sandy K. Kautz, Belleview, Denise A. Dymond Lyn, Inverness, Mary Hatcher, Bushnell,and Bo Samargya, Ocala.
11th Congressional District
In the contest for the 11th Congressional District, incumbent Representative Richard B. “Rich” Nugent, Republican, Brooksville, is being challenged by Democrat Dave Koller, Ocala.
State Senate
Incumbent State Senator Wilton Simpson, Republican, Dade City, is unopposed to return to his seat. His district includes most of Sumter County except for the bulk of The Villages.
House of Representatives
In the Florida House of Representatives' race, incumbent Marlene O'Toole, Republican, Lady Lake, is also unopposed. Her district includes all of Sumter County.
In state-wide races, the Republican primary pits Incumbent Governor Rick Scott against challengers Yinka Abosede Adeshina and Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder.
The Democratic primary has former governor Charlie Christ facing Nan H. Rich.
But, the two party candidates will not be alone on the November ballot.  The contest for the governor's office includes 13 other lesser-known candidates varying from no party affiliation and write in candidates to Libertarian Adrean Wyllie.
Attorney General
In the race for Florida Attorney General, the Democratic Primary has George Sheldon and Perry E. Thurston competing for a chance to challenge Libertarian candidate Bill Wohlfiser and Republican incumbent Pam Bondi in the General Election.
Chief Financial Officer
The contest for Florida's Chief Financial Officer will be decided in the November election with incumbent Jeff Atwater, Republican, facing Democratic challenger William “Will” Rankin.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Republican incumbent Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam faces competition in general election from Democratic candidate  Thaddeus “Thad” Hamilton and write-in candidate Jeffrey M. Obos.
The November General Election ballot will also give voters an opportunity to decide ‘yes or no’ on retention of a number of District Court of Appeals judges.
Early voting for the primary election runs Aug. 16-23. Voter, candidate and election information is available by contacting the Sumter County Supervisors of Elections Office at 352- 569-1540.  The office also provides much information on their website at www.sumterelections.org.         
The Florida Division of Elections also provides extensive information at its website at election.dos.state.fl.us.