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Altman, Armstrong advance to November

Both avoid runoffs, so a former New Port Richey mayor now will be pitted against a sheriff's sergeant.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 6, 2000


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NEW PORT RICHEY -- Republican Jack Armstrong and Democrat Peter Altman won their primaries Tuesday night and will face off in the November general election for County Commission District 5.

Armstrong pulled in enough votes to avoid a runoff with either of his two Republican opponents, William Faulkner and Ed Poulin.

Armstrong attributed that to spending almost a year and a half on the campaign trail, talking to constituents.

"I have just been running a positive campaign," Armstrong said Tuesday from Steve's Fountainview Restaurant in Land O'Lakes.

The Democratic primary pitted two former mayors -- Altman is from New Port Richey and Eileen Ferdinand is from Port Richey -- against each other.

Altman did not have as comfortable a lead over Ferdinand, which he blames on Ferdinand's last-minute campaign fliers.

"Her negativity hurt me," Altman said. "There are probably a lot of people out there who think I'm not such a nice guy," he said.

Ferdinand mailed a flier to voters last week that said Altman has been late paying some county taxes and fees more than 20 times. She also criticized his short-lived proposal, while mayor, to re-create a tourism poster from New Port Richey's sister city in France on a downtown wall.

Altman said he's happy voters saw beyond that.

"Enough of them came out to vote and counter the negativity," Altman said.

While on the New Port Richey council, Altman, 42, led the effort to redevelop the city's downtown and to set aside land for the James E. Grey Preserve. He also has served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization and on the boards of several charitable organizations, including Lighthouse for the Blind and the American Red Cross.

When she was on the Port Richey council, Ferdinand, 50, also served on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, as well as on the Chasco Fiesta steering committee and other governmental committees.

On the Republican side, Armstrong, 31, is a sergeant with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, where he has worked for more than 11 years and has won several police awards. He was the first candidate to jump into the race for the District 5 seat; he announced his candidacy in May 1999.

Armstrong said Tuesday he and his supporters plan to celebrate his victory over the next few days and then begin preparing for the general election next week.

He beat out Faulkner, 54, an electrical contractor and part-time instructor, and Poulin, 54, the co-owner of Dinettes Plus in Hudson.

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