A resident of the Village of Hacienda North is the latest Villager to throw his hat in the ring for a seat on the Sumter County Commission.
The entry into the race of Community Development District 1 Supervisor Craig Estep means that three incumbents from The Villages – Don Burgess, Al Butler and Steve Printz – could or will face GOP primary opponents next year.
Village of Amelia resident Gary Search has filed paperwork to seek the District 1 seat currently held by Butler, who lives in the Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter.
Estep has filed paperwork to seek the District 3 seat held by Burgess, a resident of the Village of Bonnybrook.
Burgess and Butler have not publicly declared whether they will seek re-election. The Sumter commissioners took a drubbing this past September in a pair of public hearings at Savannah Center over the 25 percent property tax increase that won their unanimous approval.
Estep was appointed in 2015 to fill a CDD 1 supervisor vacancy created by the resignation of Bill Mapel.
A native of the Midwest, Estep spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps and another 17 years flying helicopters in the Army National Guard. He worked 20 years in law enforcement, managed a state emergency operations center, performed emergency planning in the nuclear power industry and was the director of Disaster Services for the American Red Cross in San Antonio. He finished his working career flying Emergency Medical Services helicopters transporting sick and injured people.
Estep has earned high marks as a CDD 1 supervisor. In 2015, he led the charge to persuade the Amenity Authority Committee to take over and upgrade a bumpy golf cart path between Soledad Way and the Hacienda Hills Country Club.
Estep is a regular fixture at AAC meetings and was recently spotted at a Sumter Commission meeting in Bushnell.
“Sumter County has a very diverse and talented population. This cross section includes agriculture, small businesses, large corporate businesses, and a plethora of independent thinkers and implementers. I believe everyone deserves to be heard. This ensures decisions can be made for the greater good and in the best interest of the whole county. Open, honest, transparent communication is the key to beneficial outcomes. I will work tirelessly and in a collaborative effort toward the success of Sumter County and each of its residents,” Estep said.