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Incumbents return in a big way

Published March 8, 2006

PINELLAS PARK - Mayor Bill Mischler and council member Ed Taylor won re-election Tuesday by massive landslides.

Both Mischler and Taylor won their races with a 4 to 1 majority.

Mischler polled 3,000 votes, or 80.3 percent of the vote, to Randy Heine's 735 votes, or 19.7 percent.

Taylor received 2,948 votes, for 80.5 percent. Opponent Marshall Cook received 715 votes, for 19.5 percent.

"I'm glad to get back and work with Ed Taylor and the rest of council," Mischler said. "I think we're on the move and we've got some horizons (to reach) in the next few years."

Mischler and Taylor both said they wanted to thank their supporters.

"Marshall was a friend yesterday. He'll be a friend tomorrow. Nothing's changed there," Taylor said. "I'll see him at council meetings."

Mischler and Taylor had both campaigned on their records and the recent growth in the city.

Heine and Cook ran campaigns that touted the opportunity for change.

The race was notable for its rancor that began about 21/2 years ago when Heine began appearing at City Council meetings to comment on issues. Heine, a long-time political foe of the mayor, also used the time to dog Mischler and challenge him to answer charges and questions.

As the election neared, Cook complained about the placement of Mischler's signs, saying they were illegally placed on public rights of way although city officials traditionally allow political signs there during the last week or so of the election season.

And on Election Day Cook charged that the voting machines malfunctioned in several precincts, including his own precinct at Skyview Recreation Center. When Cook tried to vote for himself, the machine defaulted to a vote for Taylor. A precinct worker finally moved Cook to a different booth.

Later in the day, Cook said he had other reports of voting machines malfunctioning in similar ways.

Nancy Whitlock, communications director for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office, said there had been a problem at Cook's precinct. One machine, she said, registered a different answer when voters touched it. Poll workers recalibrated it to fix the problem.

Whitlock said she did not know how many people had voted before the problem was caught. But the machines, she said, allow voters to look at their votes before finalizing them.

No one else complained, so it is unlikely the problem affected many, if any, other votes, she said.

[Last modified March 8, 2006, 01:59:02]

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