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NEW PORT RICHEY - County Commissioner Ann Hildebrand snapped up her sixth term Tuesday, handily defeating challenger Keith Waldron and write-in candidate Jon Kueny.
Hildebrand held a commanding lead of nearly 60 percent, with about 96 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday evening. Waldron trailed with 40 percent, and a fraction of a percent went to Kueny.
All three were vying for the seat in District 3, which covers southwestern Pasco.
"Every one of my opponents in the primary and in the general election, their fault and quibble with me was they didn't support the Penny for Pasco," said Hildebrand, 66, a Republican. "They thought it was time for a change, and they didn't like the way things were done.
"I would say the people that voted felt that the Penny for Pasco is going to be a good thing for Pasco County and that we are on a solid, good track."
The race got rolling this spring with the Penny for Pasco, a 1-cent sales tax hike for roads, schools and other projects.
Hildebrand publicly promoted the tax and supported placing the referendum on the March 9 ballot. Waldron, a 46-year-old Democrat from Holiday, disagreed with Hildebrand on both points.
The campaign grew beyond the Penny into a debate about the county's growth. Waldron, a retired Winn-Dixie manager now selling real estate, said the county needs to make sure it has enough land for schools and industrial sites amid the housing boom.
Hildebrand noted she worked with Tampa Bay Water to reduce groundwater pumping in Pasco County, lobbied for state funding to buy conservation land, and chaired the U.S. 19 task force.
Commissioners are elected countywide to four-year terms. The job pays $70,821 a year.