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Phillips tops Lucas by nearly 2-to-1

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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INVERNESS -- Citrus County Commissioner Vicki Phillips cleared the first hurdle toward a third term Tuesday night, defeating Republican challenger Katie Lucas by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio.

Phillips won the District 3 Republican primary with 64.7 percent of the vote.

"I've always done what I said I would do, which is be accessible and accountable," Phillips said as she hugged supporters outside the Supervisor of Elections Office. "And not just during an election year -- I'm out there all the time."

Lucas, the marketing director for Bay Area Air Conditioning, said she learned a lot from her first experience in the election arena and pledged to remain involved with the community.

"Maybe it just wasn't my time," Lucas said. "Maybe it will be four years from now."

Phillips will face Democrat Zoe Gail McLendon, who had no primary opponent, in November.

Meanwhile, no candidate walked away from the District 5 commission race with a majority of the votes, so the top two Republicans and top two Democrats will go to the Oct. 3 runoff election.

Scott Adams, owner of several construction and agricultural businesses, led the Republican pack with 37.4 percent, with Sheriff's Office transcriber Millie King close behind at 33.6 percent. Jim McIntosh, a retired auto worker who founded the local branch of the Libertarian Party, came in third with 28.9 percent.

Adams said he believed his common sense, sincerity and knowledge of the county made him most appealing to voters. Looking ahead to the runoff, Adams said he will emphasize the difference between his background as a small businessman and King's four decades of experience working for various government agencies.

"I'm honestly doing it for the right reasons," he said. "I'm not a 40-year bureaucrat."

Clutching a printout of the early election results, King said she was speechless.

"I just have a lump in my throat," she said.

Making it to the runoff was not a relief, she said, but a sign that she needs to work harder to win voters over.

On the Democratic side, Josh Wooten, owner of a Hernando used car lot, took 47.6 percent of the vote, just a few percentage points shy of winning the primary. He will go on to face Richard Kaufman, who is finishing his second term on the Inverness City Council, in the Oct. 3 runoff.

Kaufman took 34.6 percent of the vote, and former mechanic Tim Lamontagne came in third with about 17.7 percent.

"The Democrats have run an issues-oriented campaign, and with me and Dick (Kaufman) I think it will continue to be an issues-oriented campaign," Wooten said.

Kaufman said he was surprised he didn't do better, but said he will try to tell more voters about his plan to review the county departments and eliminate wasteful bureaucracy and spending.

"It's nice to be in the runoff, but it would have been nicer to get more votes," Kaufman said.

Republicans Adams and King, and Democrats Wooten and Kaufman are all running for the District 5 seat being vacated by Commissioner Brad Thorpe, a Republican.

Commissioner Roger Batchelor, who represents District 1, sailed through the Republican primary with no opponent, but will face Democrat Bruce Van Vlack in the November election.

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