Carpenter officially steps up as supervisor

Surrounded by her family, Pam Carpenter is sworn in by Circuit Judge Martha Ann Lott Tuesday as supervisor of elections for Alachua County during a ceremony for county officials.

ROB C. WITZEL/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 12:53 a.m.
Not a whole lot will change for Pam Carpenter.
She'll still go to work in the same place she has for 12 years - the Alachua County elections office. The same co-workers will be there. Elections will come at the times they always do.
But the one thing that has changed for Carpenter is big. She is now elections supervisor - a position that was once the most low-key of elected offices, but is now one of the most scrutinized.
So Carpenter, as experienced as she is at running elections, was nervous when she took the oath of office at a Tuesday morning swearing-in for Alachua County's constitutional officers.
"Today was very emotional," Carpenter said. "I'm excited to get started but I want to take at least a day or two to settle in."
Carpenter, 57, was an assistant to former Elections Supervisor Beverly Hill, who decided not to seek re-election after three terms. Carpenter, a Democrat, defeated Republican Ernesto Herrera with 67.4 percent of the vote. The $99,415 salary she will earn is set by the state.
Carpenter oversees a current full-time staff of nine, and her first notable test will be the March 9 Gainesville City Commission elections.
Florida's 2000 election failings drew global attention to the state and several of its elections supervisors.
The way elections are carried out was a considerable issue in the 2004 races. Issues such as electronic voting machines, voter registration, early voting and others were major focal points. No significant problems were reported here.
Carpenter paid homage to supervisors who preceded her and said she wants to continue to stage elections that are largely problem-free.
"Beverly has done a fantastic job the last 12 years and Buddy Irby before her, so I have big shoes to fill," Carpenter said. "The voters of Alachua County have come to expect elections that are open and honest. My goal is to maintain that heritage."
If Carpenter is the elected rookie, Irby is the political marathon man of Alachua County. He was sworn in to his fourth term as clerk of the courts Tuesday, and served four terms as elections supervisor before that.
Irby was first elected as supervisor at age 24 and said he has never given serious thought to a job outside of public service.
"Actually, the people have been very good to me. I work hard for the people every day. You have to, or else they will kick you out," Irby said. "Public service is what I thought I was meant to do."
Also sworn in for new terms were State Attorney Bill Cervone, Property Appraiser Ed Crapo, Tax Collector Von Fraser, Sheriff Steve Oelrich and Public Defender Richard Parker.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or

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