Three Sumter County commissioners vying for re-election are pouring money into ads in The Villages Daily Sun while downplaying the fact they are incumbents.
Villagers Don Burgess, Al Butler and Steve Printz each raked in more than $60,000 in political contributions during the first two weeks of June. The three incumbents have been feeling the heat since their decision last year to raise taxes by 25 percent.
Last week, Burgess spent $4,723.13 for political advertising in the newspaper, which is owned by the Developer of The Villages. Butler wrote a $3,612.80 check on June 22 for political ads in the Daily Sun. Printz wrote a $3,612.80 check to the Daily Sun on June 19 and a check for $1,110.23 to the newspaper on June 26, according to campaign disclosure forms on file with the Sumter County Supervisor of Elections Office.
Burgess’ ad features a full-color photo of him in a blue blazer, open collar and tan slacks. It never mentions he is an incumbent and does not use the word “re-elect.” He uses the phrase, “Let’s Keep Our Community Great!” an obvious play on President Trump’s “Keep America Great” re-election slogan.
Butler’s Daily Sun ad features a color photo of the Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter resident with his wife, Marcia. The ad emphasizes the couple’s Florida roots and his chairmanship of the Sumter County Republican Executive Committee.
Printz’s ad in the Daily Sun, in large print, encourages voters to “Elect Steve Printz” and makes no mention of the fact he is an incumbent. It plays up the fact he is a Navy veteran and a “Lifelong Republican and strong supporter of President Trump.”
Voter outrage was ignited this past September when the incumbent commissioners turned a deaf ear to residents who complained at two packed public hearings at Savannah Center about the proposed 25 percent tax increase.
That anger and frustration launched the candidacies of Gary Search, who is opposing Butler in District 1; Craig Estep, who is taking on Burgess in District 3; and Oren Miller and Daniel Myslakowski, who are running against Printz in District 5. All are running as Republicans. Villager Larry Green is running as a No Party Affiliation candidate and will face the victor in the District 1 Butler-Search race.
Last month, Villager Pete Wahl, a former top Villages government official, and Jerry Prince, head of The Villages Republican Club, tossed their names into the hat as write-in candidates in a less-than-subtle attempt to limit those who can vote in the District 3 and District 5 commission races. This loophole in Florida election law cut out 45,000 Democratic and NPA voters who would have had a hand in determining the outcome of those two county commission races.
Sumter County residents have until July 20 to register or change their registration to participate in the Republican Primary on Aug. 18. You can do so at this link: https://registertovoteflorida.gov/home Voters can change back their registration after the Aug. 18 primary.