Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Elections Hopefuls Stump at Tiger Bay

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Elections Hopefuls Stump at Tiger Bay

Article excerpt

SUPERVISOR: Five of the seven candidates make pitches at Manatee forum

MANATEE COUNTY

Voters will have plenty of choices in an August primary and the November general election when they decide who should be in charge of running fair and accurate elections in Manatee County.

On Thursday, five of the seven candidates who have said they are in the running for the Supervisor of Elections post made their pitches before about 90 people at the Manatee Tiger Bay Club forum at Pier 22 restaurant.

The four Republicans and one Democrat agreed on many points, such as how voter turnout lately has been disappointing and the Elections Office needs to actively encourage more participation.

They concurred that Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat, who retires this year, made the right call when he rejected the touch- screen balloting system that proved problematic in Sarasota County. They all insisted they would stick with an optical scan system that can quickly provide results but still leaves a trail of paper ballots.

Here is a quick look at some of the contenders and their views:

Edward A. Bailey

As the former head of Manatee's NAACP, Bailey said he is the candidate who already has extensive experience in voter outreach and encouraging people to get to the polls.

Bailey cited his community involvement, such as serving as a trustee for State College of Florida.

Bailey said he supports Gov. Rick Scott's push to rid voters rolls of ineligible voters, despite the recent objections of the U.S. Department of Justice. "The federal government needs to stay out of Florida's business," Bailey said.

Richard G. Bedford

Bedford, who has been on the county Planning Commission since 1992, said that, as an architect and a home builder, he knows how to scrutinize everything from "the littlest detail to the big picture."

"The supervisor of elections is not a political office," Bedford said. "It's running a business."

In that business, Bedford said, there is no room for error.

In terms of keeping the voter rolls accurate, Bedford said the elections office already gets frequent updates from the county health department about deaths and from the state transportation agency about people who have changed their addresses. …

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