By WAYNE WASHINGTON
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000
TAMPA -- Pam Iorio's efforts to modernize the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office appeared to have paid off Tuesday night as she held a commanding lead with about 25 percent of the vote counted.
Iorio, a 41-year-old Democrat, was cruising past her Republican opponent, Joe Robinson, an engineer making his third run for office.
"I really feel I've worked hard to modernize the office, to be innovative," Iorio said. "At some point, you've got to have a record and just hope people appreciate that record."
Iorio ran a low-key campaign, eschewing mass mailings and sign postings and relying on her name recognition and reputation.
Iorio acknowledged that counting the votes Tuesday night was slow and attributed it to the heavy turnout and a lengthier than expected time to count numerous absentee ballots. When she was elected to the County Commission in 1985 at age 25, she became the youngest person to serve on the board.
Her first two campaigns for elections supervisor were a breeze. She drew no opposition.
But Robinson tried to mix it up from the start.
He said Iorio ran a corrupt office and that his failed run for a Tampa City Council seat last year was proof of that.
Robinson got just 11 percent of the vote in that race, but argued that Iorio's office mishandled ballots. He sued Iorio, but a judge dismissed the suit.
The dispute sparked his interest in running for the office.
But he faced an uphill climb. Iorio has been credited with modernizing the office, counting votes faster and more accurately.
That, and her high name recognition, made defeating her tough.
"I think she's done a fine job," said Shawn Jones, a 40-year-old Town 'N Country resident. "I figure if someone does a good job, don't get them out."
Iorio, however, might well take herself out before her term expires. Her name is often mentioned as a possible candidate for Tampa mayor in 2003.
Even Tuesday night, she pointedly refused to rule out a run for mayor.