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Two more enter race for commission seat

The District 5 race now has three Democrats, three Republicans and an independent. Democrat David H. "Hap'' Clark is the incumbent. The primaries are in September.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2000


The race for the County Commission District 5 seat widened Friday from five candidates to seven when former New Port Richey Mayor Peter Altman and current Port Richey Mayor Eileen Ferdinand jumped into the fray.

Altman, 42, has sat on the New Port Richey City Council for 12 of the past 14 years. Ferdinand, 49, was elected to the Port Richey City Council in 1995 and has served as mayor since 1997.

The two Democrats will face off with Democrat incumbent Commissioner David H. "Hap" Clark in the September primary. The winner of that primary will face the winner of the District 5 Republican primary -- there are three Republicans running -- plus independent candidate Fred Miller.

It's a challenge Altman said he welcomes.

"I treat every race as if I were the underdog," Altman said.

Altman's name had been floated among political circles the past few months as a possible candidate for state office. But Altman, an accountant, said he decided he could best serve as a county commissioner.

"I just got through the income-tax season and it's the time of year when I have the most contact with people," Altman said, many of whom urged him to run.

"I was not recruited by the party hierarchy," he said.

Altman said he planned to bring to the dais the same aggressive style that has brought New Port Richey another soon-to-be-developed nature park. He lives in New Port Richey, is married and has three adult children.

In a news release issued Friday, Ferdinand said she, too, had been asked to run for state office, county commission and her own seat on the Port Richey City Council.

"After much thought, I'm convinced that the right decision is to run for (county) commissioner," Ferdinand said.

At some point, Ferdinand will have to resign from her post as Port Richey mayor to run for county commission. Pasco elections officials said they have referred Ferdinand to state elections officials to get a legal opinion on when she must resign.

Ferdinand said she plans to limit all her campaign donations to do away with much of the distrust she says citizens have for their government.

"My record proves I've always put the public interest first, and to reaffirm that commitment to the people of Pasco County I will limit campaign contributions to $100," Ferdinand said.

Ferdinand lives in Port Richey with her husband and two sons.

-- Staff writer Alisa Ulferts covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or (800) 333-7505, extension 6244. Her e-mail address is ulferts@sptimes.com.

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