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Sumter County rejects three commissioners after tax hike

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From left, Oren Miller, Craig Estep and Gary Search defeated incumbent Sumter County commissioners on Tuesday. Search still faces an independent candidate in the general election. Photos: Sumter County Supervisor of Elections

Last September, the Sumter County Commission ignored hundreds of residents who came out against a 25 percent increase in property taxes.

Now, three commissioners have paid the political price. The other two weren’t up for re-election yet.

The Property Owners Association of The Villages chose three candidates to unseat the incumbents. 

POA President Cliff Wiener says it wasn’t just the tax increase. It was that they didn’t even LISTEN to the people they represent. It was their “arrogance,” he says

Tuesday’s Republican primary was decisive — even though the incumbents had way more money. Gary Search got 66 percent to oust Al Butler, Craig Estep got 65 percent against Don Burgess, and Oren Miller drew 55 percent in a three-way race to unseat Steve Printz.

Miller says they’ll give Sumter County back to the people.

“Right now, we feel like the developers have got the commissioners in their back pocket and they’re doing the representation for them, not for the people,” Miller says.

Search still must face Larry Green, an independent, in November.


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.