It was a huge night for Hernando County Republicans, as they won every election the party was on the ballot for. Along with Representative Blaise Ingoglia keeping his seat in the Florida House of Representatives for District 35 and John Emerson continuing on as Property Appraiser, the Board of County Commissioners also saw John Allocco unseat Democratic incumbent Diane Rowden in District Three and Steve Champion take over District Five. The Supervisor of Elections, Shirley Anderson was also re-elected.
There was a festive mood at the Republican Party’s election night event at Marker 48, even before the results were known. Hernando resident John Murphy was excited to hear some good news.
“I’m pretty optimistic, I think we’re gonna do well, across the board really,” Murphy said.
The re-elected Property Appraiser Emerson was also happy to hear his good news, as well as the high turnout numbers.
“I feel good about it, we’ve had over 90,000 votes cast in Hernando County and there’s only 130,000 registered voters,” Emerson said.
Emerson also discussed his hopes for the next term, seeking to build on what has been started in Hernando County.
“I hope to continue on all the improvements we started. I was first elected in 2012 so this is only my second term, so I’ve got a lot of things we’ve implemented and trying to get accomplished and I want to see that through,” Emerson said.
Champion, a political newcomer, was trying to stay realistic before the results were read, as elections can swing for or against a candidate at the last second.
“You’re always hesitant to make a prediction because you work so hard, you hope for the best. I really feel I have a lot of backing and there’s been a lot of people supporting me thank God, a lot of volunteers that have family and friends all here supporting me. I feel confident but again, hopefully we’ll prevail, I don’t want to be overconfident,” Champion said.
There was a sense of nervous excitement to him, as a newcomer winning by more than 20,000 votes.
“There’s the fear of the unknown right now. I’ve never been in politics, I’ve never ran for any office this is my first time, and if I win I’ll have to see whether I’d even run again or not,” Champion said.
It’s not even the start of his first term, but it’s likely he’ll stick around for a while. His excitement for the election came more from meeting voters, and learning about their hopes for Hernando County.
“The most exciting part is getting to know the people of the county, even though I thought I knew a lot of people in the county, but when you have 180,000 people in the county and 130,000 voters, you really don’t know anyone until you run for office, and then you’re all over every square inch of the county. The great thing about our county is that these commissioners, even though they represent a district, they vote at large. Just because I’m in a rural part of the county, Timber Pines matters because those people vote for me as well so I have to go out there and I have to meet them, I have to go to Hernando Beach, I have to go the Highlands, I have to go to Spring Hill, et cetera. So the exciting part was getting to meet the people and letting them know what I’m about,” Champion said.
Ingoglia retained his seat as the state representative for District 35 by a comfortable margin of more than 19,000 votes. Upon learning of his re-election, he promised to keep up the work he has been doing there.
“I’m gonna do what I have been doing, and that is I’m keeping to my promises, I’m going to fight for lower taxes, more accountable government, I’m going to do what I say what I do and I just love taking on the establishment and that’s what I’ve been doing in Tallahassee and I just look forward to doing it again and serving the people of this district,” Ingoglia said.
For the Third District County Commissioner race, John Allocco was a self-described underdog, which he found to be a challenge worth taking on.
“The hardest part was the fact that when I first filed I was told that there was no way that I could win this district, ‘good luck and you’ll have to try it again in 4 years if you want to win.’ It really motivated me to work hard, I had a great team around me, and my wife was amazing to put up with me being as busy as I was to make sure it happened,” Allocco said.
Upon learning of his victory, Allocco was happy but ready to look toward working at the County.
“My first thoughts are just to enjoy all the hard work that everyone put in, but after that I want to look forward to bringing this county back together again, I really do. I want to bring unity back to this county. I look forward to working with Steve Champion and bringing some new ideas into the county commission,” Allocco said.
While the race for the fourth district of the school board did not have party allegiances, both William Vonada and winner Gus Guadagnino were popular and supported at the party.
Guadagnino, who won by more than 15,000 votes, explained how he thought the election went.
“I felt like it went really well. I’m very proud of myself and my opponent, we had a very respectful, probably the most respectful race in 2016. He was cordial, I was cordial, we stayed to the issues. I always felt confident that I would win,” Guadagnino said.
A Hernando resident since 1985, Guadagnino stated,
“Now we need to grow, when I came on the school board we had a $10 million deficit, school grades were going down, drop-outs were going up, we’ve corrected all that. We’re at a balanced budget now, that’s the first time in 11 years. Now we need to bring back the things that we took away to get where we are now, such as the fine arts and the performing arts, we’ve got to bring back sports. A well-rounded education like I used to have, a lot of – we called them industrial arts -- where kids can get a skill, just a well-rounded education,” Guadagnino said.
Also of note, Hernando County voted to retain all Supreme Court and Fifth District Court of Appeals Justices, voted yes on Amendment one at 52.38 percent, yes on Amendment two at 69.61 percent, yes on Amendment three at 81.60 percent and yes on Amendment five at 78.63 percent. The county also chose Republican Daniel Webster to be the District 11 representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, voted for incumbent Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump who all won overall.