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Hernando Supervisor of Elections

Gus Guadagnino touts his new ideas while Annie Williams cites her extensive experience helping run this department.

By SAUNDRA AMRHEIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Two familiar names are on the ballot for the Hernando County supervisor of elections contest. Gus Guadagnino is a businessman who belongs to a host of community organizations, while Annie Williams' face has been a familiar one in the elections office for two dozen years.

Guadagnino is the Republican candidate who beat opponent Sue Rupe in the Oct. 3 runoff. He had gained the most votes of four candidates in the September primary, but the lack of a majority pushed him into a runoff.

Williams, assistant supervisor of elections and the Democratic candidate, avoided a runoff by winning the first primary, where she beat real estate agent Barbara Batten.

Guadagnino says his advantage over Williams is his leadership skills gleaned from years running his own business and his involvement with numerous community organizations. Williams says her extensive experience in and knowledge of the elections office overshadow Guadagnino's abilities.

Guadagnino, the chief executive officer of Joni Industries, a marketing and promotional firm, is a member of the Hernando County Education Foundation, the Hernando County Sheriff's Office Junior Deputy League, the Manufacturers Association of Hernando County, the Economic Development Commission, the Hernando Builders Association and several other groups.

The elections office, he said, needs the kind of leadership and initiative he has shown in his business and community involvement to get more people interested in the voting process.

One of his ideas for improving voter participation is a program for the office's computer Web site that would list the votes of county commissioners and other county officials on important issues. The program would allow the community to cast votes on those same issues to show if elected officials are in agreement with their constituents.

His other ideas include mobile precincts for seniors, mock elections and a Teens in Government program where students would conduct "rap sessions" or debates in local schools on politics and other issues related to the future of Hernando County.

Williams says she is the only candidate with elections experience. She has worked in the office for 24 of the last 27 years, starting out in clerical work until becoming assistant supervisor about seven years ago.

She says she is the best candidate to take over from her boss, Ann Mau, who retires at the end of the year, because she has worked every job in the office, excluding the control of the budget and administrative decisions.

Williams also wants to promote more programs in the community for children to get them involved in the voting process before they become the cynical teenagers she encounters each year in the high schools, where she encourages seniors to register to vote before they graduate.

THE JOB

The supervisor of elections registers voters and maintains voting records, establishes and sets up polling places, collects and tallies ballots on election night, sends results to the state and makes them available to the public. The supervisor also conducts voter education programs to encourage registration and participation. The job pays $80,000 a year.

REPUBLICAN

GUS GUADAGNINO, 46, is chief executive officer of Joni Industries, a marketing and promotional firm at the Hernando County Airport Industrial Park. He holds an associate's degree in industrial arts from the Community College of New York City. A native of New York, Guadagnino lives in Spring Hill and has been involved in numerous community programs, including the Hernando County Education Foundation and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office Junior Deputy Hernando League. He is a former director of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and is vice president of the Manufacturers Association of Hernando County, a member of the Tourist Development Council, a member of the Economic Development Commission and a member of the Hernando Builders Association. He is married and has two children. ASSETS: IRAs, checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, automobiles, boat, investments. LIABILITIES: mortgages and car notes. SOURCE OF INCOME: his business and investments. WEB SITE: http://www.gus4soe.com.

DEMOCRAT

ANNIE WILLIAMS, 44, has been working in the Hernando County Supervisor of Elections Office since she was 17. Working her way up from a clerk and typist, Williams has been assistant supervisor of elections for about seven years. A Brooksville resident, Williams graduated from Hernando High School and obtained an associate's degree in business from Pasco-Hernando Community College. She is married and has two children. ASSETS: cars, checking and savings accounts, insurance. LIABILITIES: loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: job in elections office.

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