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Warren captures GOP spot; Brady, Cooper go again

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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INVERNESS -- The Citrus County Tax Collector's race will require a runoff election for the Democrats, but the Republicans voted in a winner who will again face the voters in November.

Democrats Lee Cooper and Richard J. Brady will face each other again on Oct. 3 in a runoff election, because neither received more than 50 percent of the votes. The final vote count showed Cooper leading with 43 percent and Brady trailing at 18 percent.

Republicans voted Janice Warren a clear winner in a crowded field. Warren received 54 percent and bypasses a runoff. She faces the winner of the Cooper-Brady Democratic runoff in the November general election.

The race drew a crowded field of contestants after longtime tax collector Norine Gilstrap chose to retire after serving 26 years. Six Democrats and four Republicans sought the office, which pays an annual salary of $98,910.

Warren, 48, a banking executive, beat Charles Visalli, who got 22 percent of the vote; Mark Stone, who got 15 percent; and Stephan Parker who got 8 percent, to earn the Republican candidacy for tax collector. Warren's resume lists 20 years of management experience at multiple offices and supervision of about 75 employees. She has been a resident of Citrus County since 1972.

Her initiatives, if elected, include staffing to ensure peak-time coverage at the tax collector's office to reduce wait time, to enhance cross-training and to schedule appointments with special-needs customers.

Democratic front-runner Cooper, 53, is a certified public accountant and moved to Crystal River three years ago. If elected, he wants to increase the returns on the millions of tax dollars the county receives each year before the funds are distributed to local and state offices.

Fellow Democrat Brady, 38, is a former Crystal River City Council member and works as a health care administrator. He said in his campaign literature that the race boiled down to competency and popularity of the candidates.

The other Democrats in the tax collector's race were Sandy Boulay, a title clerk for an automobile dealer, who got 15 percent; Tammy Jo Roush, a customer service manager for a cable television company, who got 12 percent; Josefa Coury, an office manager for a chiropractor, who got 7 percent; and Phillip Mulrain, a former restaurant manager who got 4 percent.

The race had few clear-cut issues, but some candidates spoke about the need for improved handicapped access, saying the courthouse expansion in downtown Inverness should take that into account.

The tax collector receives and distributes tax payments, as well as selling hunting and fishing licenses, automobile tags and boat registrations.

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