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District 5 Pasco County Commission

Peter Altman and Jack Armstrong have bent over backward to avoid running negative campaigns.

By ALISA ULFERTS

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


They've been described as nice guys, gentlemen who took the high road in a political primary season filled with negative sniping.

Now, Democrat Peter Altman and Republican Jack Armstrong face each other in Tuesday's general election.

This race has been so congenial that Armstrong was at first unwilling to comment several weeks ago for a story about Altman's failure to pay his property taxes on time.

"I don't want to be mudslinging. I want to run a clean campaign," Armstrong said at the time.

Since then, the two candidates have gone about their own business, each one talking to voters about what he, not his opponent, has done -- although Armstrong hinted the property tax issue could come up again. Armstrong said he is focusing his efforts on raising money. Ever since he won the Republican primary in September, Armstrong said, he has been besieged with calls from civic groups asking him to speak.

And that's the kind of campaign he prefers, Armstrong said.

"I'm going to campaign on my issues," Armstrong said.

Altman said he plans to do the same.

"I have done no opposition research," Altman said.

"I actually spoke to him (Armstrong) the other day and told him I was happy that he hasn't gone negative," Altman said.

While on the New Port Richey council, Altman, 43, 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.

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. He is on leave from his job.

THE JOB

District 5 covers northwest Pasco County. Commissioners are elected countywide but must live in the district they represent. The County Commission sets policy and approves rezonings, expenditures and ordinances. Commissioners serve four-year terms and are paid $61,926.

REPUBLICAN

JACK ARMSTRONG, 31, is a sergeant with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, where he has worked for more than 11 years. He was born in Indiana and moved to Florida in 1971. He lives in Hudson. Armstrong has a master's degree in public administration from Troy State University in Alabama and a bachelor's degree in criminology from Saint Leo University. He has won several police awards, including recognition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for DUI arrests and convictions in 1990-91, and his School Resource Unit won best program in the state of Florida in 1992. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 29. He is married and has a son. ASSETS: home, car, stocks, checking and savings accounts. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCE OF INCOME: Sheriff's Office salary, stock dividends. E-MAIL ADDRESS: cjarm@gte.net. WEB SITE: http://www.jack-armstrong.com.

DEMOCRAT

PETER A. ALTMAN, 43, is the former mayor of New Port Richey. He was born in St. Petersburg and graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor's degree in accounting. He received his certified public accountant designation in 1987. While on the New Port Richey council, Altman 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 the Lighthouse for the Blind and the American Red Cross. He is married and has three stepchildren. ASSETS: two homes, business, stock. LIABILITIES: two bank loans, three personal loans. SOURCE OF INCOME: business and rental income.

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