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Newcomer battle ends with Republican Berfield as victor

By CHRISTINA HEADRICK

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


CLEARWATER -- Keeping Florida House District 50 in the hands of a Republican, newcomer Kim Berfield whipped another political novice, Democrat Ava VanNahmen, in Tuesday's election.

Berfield, who watched election results at home with her parents in Clearwater before heading to a Republican gathering at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg, said she was elated about winning. The district snakes from downtown Dunedin through Clearwater to St. Petersburg.

"I think the first thing that we'll tackle is saying thank you, taking the time to thank the people," Berfield said. "We're going to be out tomorrow night, waving signs, saying thank you, and letting them know we're here to serve as their voice."

Berfield, who says she began thinking about running for office when she was in college six years ago, constantly repeated her message of being the "people's voice" in Tallahassee in her campaign.

Berfield also thanked her campaign workers Tuesday night. She said she would join some of them for a late night election recap at Perkins on Gulf-to-Bay in Clearwater later in the evening.

Berfield, 29, is the events coordinator for the Contractors and Builders Association of Pinellas County.

During the race, the candidates made similar pledges to fight for state money to improve local roads and offer teachers better benefits and training. They disagreed on issues such as ending affirmative action and creating a school voucher program, with Berfield supporting those changes.

VanNahmen, a 45-year-old marketing consultant, attempted to cast herself as the more seasoned first-time candidate. She also tried to win votes in her neighborhood, Feather Sound, a traditional Republican stronghold. But it didn't put her over the top.

VanNahmen, who watched election results come in at a Democratic party at Bombay Bicycle Club in Clearwater, could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

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