Candidate unafraid to take another shot
Tony HoltBROOKSVILLE - Shirley Anderson took aim — early and often — four years ago.
Published: July 28, 2012
Published: July 28, 2012
She was openly critical of the job incumbent Annie Williams had done helming the elections office and she sought to replace her.
Non-party candidate Gus Guadagnino entered the race shortly after Anderson. Based on conventional wisdom, three was a crowd for Anderson, but it was a stroke of good fortune for Williams.
Even though a clear majority — 58 percent — voted against Williams, not enough of them went for Anderson. Guadagnino, now running for school board, siphoned off many of the votes she was expected to get.
Anderson said she prayed long and hard about whether to try again.
"Losing stinks," she said. Anderson took on another campaign because she still thinks there is still more work to be done in the elections office.
"I don't know why we would lag behind the other counties," said Anderson about the longer-than-average wait for voting results on election night.
With Williams retiring at the end of the term, Anderson's posture hasn't been as aggressive.
"I'm trying to be positive because I'm not running against Annie this time," she said.
A Republican for almost two-and-a-half decades, Anderson is touting herself as a fiscal conservative in a political environment seemingly as ripe as ever for such a candidate. Republicans occupy all seats on the county commission, as well as the sheriff and clerk of court, and virtually all of them have had to serve residents while agreeing to a decrease in government spending.
"We've all learned how to do more with less," she said.
Anderson is a district director to current U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent, R-Brooksville. It's a post she also held for seven years when she worked for Nugent's predecessor, Ginny Brown-Waite.
It is through her congressional job that Anderson meets elections workers and managers in other counties. She has spoken to them, sought advice from them and paid attention to the way they keep their residents up to date. She thinks neighboring counties have done noticeably better.
For instance, the elections supervisor in Citrus County, Susan Gill, constantly publishes announcements in the newspaper, Anderson said.
She also promised to send out more e-letters and use the Internet to greater effect like they do in Pasco County.
Anderson said she had been asked by many people — within and outside of her inner circle — to consider a run for county commission. That's not a job she wants. While she's demonstrative about her passion for politics, she's more comfortable in an office setting as opposed to being in a legislative or government board position.
In 2008, Anderson made many public statements, none complimentary, when it came to Williams' performance.
She said the incumbent had left names off the ballot, listed candidates out of order, sent a sample ballot to residents using first-class postage, which cost taxpayers about $8,500.
While she's tempered her criticism recently, she thought Williams erred when she called for a special board meeting to discuss how to address the upcoming precinct changes.
She called for a conference "instead of reacting immediately," Anderson said.
Earlier this week, she submitted a statement to the media criticizing Williams and her office of giving the wrong information to school board candidate William Kingeter, who didn't know until weeks prior to the primary election that his name would appear on that ballot.
He was saving his money and energy for the general election because he was told — personally by Williams — that residents would be voting on his race in November instead of August.
Williams' right hand, Elizabeth Townsend, will run against the Republican primary victor.
"There has been a lot said about experience in the supervisor's office being needed to keep things running smooth; however, based on the past and current operations of the office I would strongly disagree," Anderson said. "Experience at doing things improperly is not the experience that I would like to see carried forward."
She actively campaigned at 12 years old for Walton County Judge Clyde B. Wells.
She switched from Democrat to Republican in 1988 soon after she read her first article on Brown-Waite.
She had such a positive response to the article she put in a call to the then-state representative. Her call was returned that night. Eventually, after Brown-Waite was elected to U.S. Congress, she went to work for her.
"I've been a loyal, involved Republican ever since," she said.
Anderson promises she'll be more accessible to the public — and to the media — if elected elections supervisor.
"You need to be accountable to the people who pay your salary," said Anderson.
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