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The Villages
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Estep will serve for second year as chair of Sumter County Commission

Sumter County Commissioner Craig Estep will serve an unusual second year as chairman after newly elected commissioners were sworn in Tuesday night.

The lone survivor of three commissioners who defeated incumbents in the 2020 election, Estep was unopposed for the top post.

But commissioners were divided on who should serve as first and second vice chairmen. Roberta Ulrich was elected first vice chairwoman and Jeffrey Bogue was elected second vice chairman.

For at least a decade, the chairman rotated each year. This year, Estep is the only commissioner with more than eight months of experience.

Ulrich was sworn in last March to replace Gary Search, who was removed along with Oren Miller by Gov. Ron DeSantis after they were charged with perjury for lying to an investigator looking into potential Florida Sunshine Law violations.

Andrew Bilardello Roberta Ulrich Craig Estep Jeffrey Bogue and Don Wiley from left.
Andrew Bilardello, Roberta Ulrich, Craig Estep, Jeffrey Bogue and Don Wiley, from left.
Andrew Bilardello took the oath Tuesday night
Andrew Bilardello took the oath Tuesday night.
Jeff Bogue seen with his wife was sworn in for a four year term on the Sumter Commission
Jeff Bogue, seen with his wife, was sworn in for a four-year term on the Sumter Commission.
Roberta Ulrich was sworn in for the Sumter County Commission
Roberta Ulrich was sworn in for the Sumter County Commission.
Don Wiley takes the oath of office
Don Wiley takes the oath of office.

Don Wiley was appointed in June to replace Miller, who was convicted last week of felony perjury and faces up to five years in prison. Search reached a plea agreement, agreeing not to seek public office.

Ulrich, Wiley, Bogue and Andrew Bilardello were elected in the August Republican primary and unopposed in the general election.

Estep, Miller and Search ousted three incumbents in 2020 after voters were angry that commissioners approved a 25 percent property tax rate increase the previous year.

On Tuesday night, Bogue nominated Bilardello for first vice chairman, but Ulrich was elected when Bilardello voted against himself.

Bilardello nominated Bogue for second vice chairman and Ulrich nominated Wiley. Estep cast the deciding vote for Bogue.

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