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Date of Issue: November 10, 2006

Voters beat path to ballot box

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A national pastime
Tuesday brought a mid-term election, with voters heading to the polls across the country to cast ballots in federal, state and local races. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Holmes Beach served as the polling place for Precinct 92.1. Citizens there voted for two city commissioners, as well as statewide officers, judges, a U.S. senator and a U.S. representative. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
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Fran Barford campaigns for mayor in Anna Maria on election day. Barford and a number of supporters for the mayoral candidate and other politicians stood along Gulf Drive encouraging people to vote - and honk their car horns. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A steady stream of voters went to the polls on Anna Maria Island to cast ballots in a mid-term election deciding the balance of Congress and the makeup of city commissions.

The ballot also contained statewide races, judicial contests, state legislative seats and a number of initiatives and referendums, including a question on raising impact fees for the West Manatee Fire Rescue District.

Many voters walked to the only polling place in Anna Maria City, the city hall at 10005 Gulf Drive. Outside, voters mingled, casually talking about the campaigns, the candidates and the weather - which produced a short downpour around 3:45 p.m.

One-hundred feet from the polling place, incumbent Anna Maria commission candidate Duke Miller greeted citizens.

"You are going to vote right?" he said to two women headed for city hall.

"Yes," one woman answered.

"Cool," Miller said, smiling and waving them on. "And thanks."

Nearby, incumbent commission candidate Linda Cramer, wearing a "Got issues?" T-shirt, chatted with a voter.

Along Gulf Drive, mayoral candidate Fran Barford and her supporters waved signs, encouraging motorists to honk and passersby to vote. Supporters also turned out for Miller, Cramer, commission candidate Jo Ann Mattick and mayoral candidate Tom Turner.

To the south in Holmes Beach, at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, and St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, many voters drove to the polls, passing rows of colorful campaign signs before reaching "vote here" and signs warning against campaigning within 100 feet of the polling place.

A slight drizzle early Tuesday seemed not to deter voters. A downpour around 4 p.m. was shortlived.

"It looks like a good showing," said election deputy Bob Kral, stationed outside the polling place at St. Bernard to assist voters. "A lot of people were here before 7 o'clock."

Kral, who had worked a dozen elections, guessed the turnout to be "less than in the presidential, but better than usual."

"We always vote," said Sheldon Hedges after casting his ballot at St. Bernard. The most interesting races, to him, included the governor's race between Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis and the five-way Holmes Beach contest for city commission.

Many voters complained about negative campaigning at the state and federal level and said they went to the polls because they felt obliged, not inspired.