Opioid makers slapped with lawsuit from Hillsborough Co.

By: Jennifer Holton, FOX 13 News

  • POSTED: AUG 14 2018 05:44PM EDT



TAMPA (FOX 13) – Whether its big tobacco, big oil, or big pharmaceutical companies, Attorney Mike Moore isn’t afraid of a fight.

He says drug makers have caused as much damage to Florida as BP’s oil spill and says those companies should pay.

“Just like BP paid to clean up the oil spill, we want these companies to clean up the pill spill,” Moore said.

Moore, who sued big tobacco in the 90s, is representing Hillsborough County in its lawsuit against several pharmaceutical companies.

The lawsuit alleges the drug companies misrepresented the risks of opioids, which they marketed for chronic pain.

“There is not one valid, scientific study that supports the use of opioid treatment for long-term chronic pain,” said Sandra Murman, the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman.

County commissioners announced the lawsuit Tuesday, saying drug companies are directly responsible for creating a deadly epidemic.

Dr. Kelly Devers says the evidence is in the morgue. She does the autopsies at the Hillsborough County Medical Examiners Office.

“It’s gotten worse every year, the death rate has climbed,” Devers said. “We used to have an overdose when I first started, maybe once or twice a week, and now we have folks coming in who are deceased from drug overdoses, sometimes three or four a day.”

She says they come from all walks of life.

“They’re professionals, some of them are homeless,” she said. “Some of them are college students. Some of them are graduating from high school and working in construction or other jobs.”

Since 2012, the county has seen over 1,072 opioid overdose deaths, a 24 percent increase over the previous five years.

Sheriff Chad Chronister says the supply needs to be dried up.

“This is not an epidemic that we’re going to arrest our way out of. it is going to take treatment, prevention, education, and obviously enforcement,” he said.

Right now, the county doesn’t have a dollar amount on the lawsuit. Moore hopes it’s enough to impact the problem.



Commissioner Sandy Murman Quoted in:

Lawsuit Aims To Make Opioid Companies Pay For The ‘Pill Spill’


Attorney Mike Moore says they want opioid manufacturers and distributors to pay to clean up the “pill spill.”


Hillsborough County has joined the state of Florida in suing 14 opioid manufacturers and distributors, including Purdue Pharma – the maker of Oxycontin.

The lawsuit filed by Hillsborough County Tuesday says the makers of certain painkillers contributed to the opioid crisis by aggressively marketing opioids to doctors and patients as safe and effective for chronic pain, and downplaying the risk of addiction.

From the 108-page lawsuit: “Each Manufacturing Defendant knew that its misrepresentation of the risk and benefits of opioids were not supported by, or were directly contrary to, scientific evidence.”

It also says opioids are the most prescribed class of drugs, generating $11 billion in revenue for drug companies in 2014 alone.

In 2015, Hillsborough County had a prescribing rate of 65.6 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Attorney Mike Moore also represents several other cities and counties in similar suits across the country. He led the legal fight against tobacco companies and is now a nationally recognized leader in lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

Moore said litigation is a tool to make sure taxpayers don’t foot the bill for the opioid crisis.

“Just like BP paid to clean up the oil spill, we want these companies to pay to clean up the ‘pill spill’,” Moore said.

Purdue Pharma, one of the named defendants in the suit, has a statement on their website about the opioid crisis, which includes this:

We are acutely aware of the public health risks opioid analgesics can create, even when taken as prescribed. And we are deeply concerned about the toll the opioid crisis is having on individuals and communities across the nation, and as a company now led by a physician, we believe the country needs a new approach to prescribing opioids.


This approach includes supporting patient access to multi-modal pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatment options; ensuring opioids are only used when alternative treatment options are inadequate; and adopting public policies aimed at reducing addiction, abuse, diversion, and overdose related to opioids.

Sandra Murman, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Chairman, said the county will be presenting an action plan in the next 30 days. That plan will be dependent on funds won from the lawsuit.

“Without this lawsuit and the potential recoveries, we cannot get the vast numbers of people into treatment that need treatment,” Murman said.

Hillsborough County spent more than $35 million in the last five years for behavioral health-related services, averaging $7 million a year. Since 2012, according to the medical examiner, there have been more than 1,072 opioid overdose deaths in the county, a 24 percent increase over the last five years, with the highest number of overdose deaths in 2017.

Murman also said more babies are born addicted to opioids in Hillsborough County than anywhere else in Florida.

“That is a direct result of the fraudulent marketing of these drugs and the excessive amounts of these drug shipped into this county by these defendants,” Murman said.

A limited number of short-term detox beds and long-term residential treatment have made fighting the opioid crisis on the backend difficult.

“The place that has the most detox beds is really in our jail,” Murman said.

But as Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister points out, “This is not an epidemic we are going to arrest our way out of. It’s going to take treatment, prevention, education and enforcement.”

Murman estimates that every dollar spent on treatment will save $4 in health care and $7 in law enforcement expenditures.

“We do not expect the taxpayers of Hillsborough County to foot the bill for paying for the solution to this problem,” she said.

Instead, funds from the lawsuit – which does not ask for a specific amount of money and instead will likely come as a mass, multi-state settlement similar to the BP oil spill settlement in 2016 – will be used to cover the cost of expanding services to treat and prevent addiction.

“We’re trying to use this as a tool to make these people provide some money so you can have prevention and education in this community, so you can have treatment, so you can have emergency response, so you have more drug courts,” Moore said. So you can try to save more lives and make a difference here. That’s what this lawsuit is about.”

In May, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a similar lawsuit by the state, filed in a state court in Pasco County, blaming the companies for creating the crisis, which kills about 15 Floridians a day.


Commissioner Sandy Murman Quoted in:

DCF says Secretary Carroll resignation won’t stop foster care reforms in Hillsborough


Posted: Aug 13, 2018 12:58 PM EDT

Updated: Aug 13, 2018 07:01 PM EDT

TAMPA (WFLA) – The resignation of Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll will not impact major foster care reforms underway in Hillsborough County, according to DCF Spokesman David Frady.

Carroll took a personal role in reforming Hillsborough foster care after an 8 On Your Side investigation in February uncovered major failures in the system.

Eckerd Connects, which is the lead agency running foster care in Hillsborough, is now operating under a Corrective Action Plan ordered by DCF after our investigation revealed foster teens living in caseworker cars in a gas station parking lot and failing to receive basic services.

Our investigation triggered an immediate response by Carroll and sparked inquiries by the DCF Inspector General’s Office and a Peer Review Team formed by Carroll to investigation foster care problems and find solutions.

DCF’s Office of Child Welfare ordered a Corrective Action Plan after those reports by the two investigating bodies.

“Nothing in that agreement will change,” Frady said.

Hillsborough Commission Chair Sandra Murman credits Carroll with managing DCF with little money and many challenges.

Carroll announced he is leaving office Sept. 6, but has not cited any reason. Frady refused to comment on the reason for Carroll’s departure.

The same day that 8 On Your Side revealed foster kids living in cars back in February, Eckerd fired the subcontractor responsible, Youth and Family Alternatives, and later hired another agency to take its place.

Eckerd Connects also brought in new leadership, Chris Card, to oversee foster care in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Murman says Card is working “80 hours a week” to get the agency back on track.

“I do think Eckerd has taken seriously every single comment from you to the legislature to citizens they have taken it to heart and said we have to change how we do business,” Murman said.



Hillsborough, tops in state for drug-addicted babies, will file suit against opioid makers

Dennis Joyce Assistant metro editor


Published: August 10, 2018

Updated: August 10, 2018 at 07:48 AM


TAMPA — Medical, law enforcement, and justice system leaders will hold a news conference Tuesday to announce that Hillsborough County is filing a lawsuit against drug companies blamed for contributing to the opioid addiction crisis.

The lawsuit says drug manufacturers helped cause the opioid addiction crisis by aggressively marketing opioid drugs, overplaying their benefits in treating chronic pain and downplaying their dangers, according to a news release Friday from the county.

In 2016, Hillsborough County had more babies born addicted to drugs than any other county in Florida, according to the release.

Nationwide, local governments had filed some 200 civil cases in the federal courts as of late last year, and dozens of other suits were working their way through state courts. Attorneys general from nearly every state had joined together to look into legal options.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced in May that she had filed “the most comprehensive lawsuit in the country” against the largest manufacturers and distributors of opioids, blaming them for creating an opioid crisis that has killed more than 10,000 Floridians. The suit was filed in Pasco County.

Among those scheduled to attend the Tuesday news conference in Tampa are Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Sandra Murman; attorney Mike Moore, who led the legal fight against tobacco companies and who is now heading up lawsuits against opioid manufacturers; Sheriff Chad Chronister; and State Attorney Andrew Warren.



Hillsborough County commissioners on board for return of ferry service

Christopher O’Donnell



Published: June 20, 2018

Updated: June 20, 2018 at 04:45 PM


TAMPA – St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman cleared another hurdle in his bid to bring back a seasonal ferry service between his city and Tampa when Hillsborough County commissioners agreed to back the project.

Kriseman is asking the  City of Tampa and Pinellas and Hillsborough counties to join St. Petersburg in paying $150,000 each to subsidize the service, which would run between November and April.

He made his pitch to Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday saying that the pilot program, which ran in 2016 and sold over 37,000 tickets, proves there is a demand for the service.

But he acknowledged that the infrequent one-boat service is not going to get many commuters out of their cars.

A survey of riders showed that for  two-thirds of passengers took the trip  for recreation.

For that reason, if the service returns it will not include early morning trips from St. Petersburg that were targeted at commuters.

Of those who did ride, about 75 percent dined out at their destination and 30 percent visited a museum.

That and other spending passenger amounted to an economic impact of $1.6 million, Kriseman said.

“That’s money spent in our two communities that might not have otherwise been spent,” he said.

But its unclear how much of that spending would have taken place anyway. Spending on events or attractions like a ferry ride is often in place of other spending such as going to the cinema, economists say.

The seasonal service would help the county as it looks to start a ferry service between south Hillsborough and MacDill Air Force Base, Kriseman said.

The county has yet to finalize its 2019 budget but Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman said she has already instructed County Administrator Mike Merrill to earmark its share of the cost of the ferry. Commissioners voted unanimously in support of that move.

“It was a huge success and I think we get a big return on it,” she said.

Kriseman’s biggest obstacle may be convincing Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who earlier this month told the Tampa Bay Times that the ferry should be viable without subsidies. Tampa is also dealing with a $5 million anticipated shortfall as it prepares its 2019 budget.



MacDill Air Force Base ferry one step closer to fruition


By Janelle Irwin  – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

Jun 20, 2018, 2:41pm


The Hillsborough County Commission approved Wednesday the next step in creating ferry service between south county and MacDill Air Force Base. The move launches the next phase of the ferry that will create a timeline for completion, a budget schedule and identify at least two possible sites for a ferry terminal somewhere in south county.

The service would provide alternative transportation for the 18,000 civilian and non-civilian employees at the base.

“The benefits are certainly great for the community and the military down there because they don’t really have any form of alternative transportation other than their car,” said Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman. “For them, mostly enlisted men live in south county because it’s affordable and to get on the [Lee Roy Selmon] Expressway is sometimes not economically available.”

Murman said fares on the ferry would be covered by the federal government.

Tampa attorney Ed Turanchik, who represents the proposed ferry operator, HMS Ferries, also said the service would save MacDill money on its annual operating budget by reducing the amount of security necessary to screen thousands of cars flowing onto base each day at four different entrances. Instead, passengers would enter the base at one dock where screening would be easier without having to ensure vehicles were safe for entry.

“MacDill has incredible queues outside the gates,” Turanchik said. “Cars and buses continue to be a security threat. Security officials believe the ferry reduces the lines through the gates. It helps them immensely with their operational security needs.”

There are still several questions that need to be answered before service can launch. Approval for an on-base dock would require federal approval from the Pentagon. MacDill leadership has tentatively offered its support, but official clearance hasn’t been requested.

The site for an off-base dock in south county also has to be identified and must be both financially and environmentally viable. Two sites so far have been floated including the Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve just north of Apollo Beach and the Williams Park boat ramp near Gibsonton. Both sites present environmental challenges including possibly damaging sea grass or injuring manatees, which are prevalent in the area.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacey White said he would not support the Schultz site due to environmental concerns and urged planners to either find a financial path toward securing the Williams Park site or find an alternative.

Wednesday’s vote allocates $170,000 to enter into several studies including dock locations.


Hillsborough is on board for its share of Cross Bay Ferry funding


By Janelle Irwin  – Reporter, Tampa Bay Business Journal

Jun 20, 2018, 2:27pm


Hillsborough County is all in for its share of the Cross Bay Ferry 2.0. The board voted unanimously Wednesday to support a $150,000 expenditure for a second round of ferry service beginning this November.

The service is meant to be an alternative transit solution for riders between downtown St. Petersburg and downtown Tampa. While it would only run seasonally, its success marks a key opportunity to attract state and federal dollars for other more permanent solutions.

“If they’re going to make that kind of investment, they want to see that it works,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said during a presentation at the Hillsborough County Commission meeting.

Kriseman touted statistics from the original service in late 2016 through April 2017 and asked the board for its support. To fund the service, four governments — Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, St. Pete and Tampa — would each need to contribute $150,000. The Florida Department of Transportation is committing $43,000 over three years.

Commissioner Sandra Murman said she already asked Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill to include $150,000 in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which takes effect in October. That budget still has to be approved.

“This is about really offering something to our citizens that’s not just in a car or an Uber,” Murman said. “It’s making use of our water. We don’t use our waterways.”




Murman has been backing another permanent ferry service connecting south Hillsborough County to MacDill Air Force Base. In an unrelated vote, the board also approved the next portion of that project, which will pave the way for budgeting and a timeline for completion. Kriseman wants to leverage the eventual service on nights and weekends for recreational transportation similar to what the Cross Bay Ferry offers.

“While that’s happening we think this gives us an opportunity — once your system is up and running we’ll already have a ridership that’s used to riding it … and will take advantage of it,” Kriseman said.

During its initial pilot, the Cross Bay Ferry exceeded ridership expectations with more than 40,000 rides and surpassed revenue expectations, leading each of the four partner governments to receive about $40,000 back on their $350,000 investments. Kriseman said he expects some of the $150,000 ask this time around to also be refunded once the seasonal service concludes.

Kriseman said a revenue study found the ferry led to $1.6 million in expenditures in Tampa and St. Pete, which is $300,000 more than the governments would contribute for its return.

Kriseman also said the ferry had a higher fare box ratio than bus service in Tampa Bay. Fares from the ferry represented 41 percent of its operating cost while bus tickets and other transit fares for the Pinellas and Hillsborough transit agencies only account for 28 percent of their budgets.

St. Pete City Council has agreed to fund its portion of the ferry cost. Pinellas County has not heard yet from Kriseman. Tampa City Council has yet to weigh in, though Mayor Bob Buckhorn has expressed reservations about spending money on the service when the city is facing 3 percent cuts to most of its departments to bridge a $13 million budget shortfall this year.


PACE financing practices come under fire from Hillsborough commission after 8 On Your Side report


Posted: Jun 20, 2018 04:28 PM EDT

Updated: Jun 20, 2018 06:32 PM EDT



TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The managers of Ygrene Energy Fund, a company that finances home improvement projects in Hillsborough County, will be fired if they don’t put consumer safeguards in place, county commissioners warned Wednesday.

“I just hope it doesn’t happen again,” said Hillsborough Commission Chair Sandra Murman. “Because if it does, we’re going to have to figure out a way to end this relationship.”

Ygrene is one of several financial institutions that provide loans through Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, and operate with an approved list of contractors.

Wednesday, Ygrene’s Director of Government Relations told commissioners her company has fired the contractor we’ve been investigating since April for deceptive sales practices.

“The only update I can share with you is we have terminated this contractor in our program,” said Kate Wesner.

PACE enables homeowners with poor credit to obtain home improvement loans and pay through a special assessment on their property tax bill, but critics say consumers end up with bulging tax bills that they can’t afford, which put them in danger of losing their homes.

PACE business practices have come under intense scrutiny since our 8 On Your Side investigation revealed that two men who went to prison for organized fraud were working for one of the contractors that provide home improvements under the Ygrene/PACE banner.

The investigation, which was verified by Hillsborough Consumer Services, also revealed that Summitwood Works LLC, owned by Neal Scoppettuolo was misleading consumers about defective roofs and misrepresenting the company as a government entity.

The swindlers, Carlton Dunko and Frank Pureber, were hired to work on Scoppettuolo’s sales and marketing team. Dunko even lives with Scoppettuolo.

Ygrene first learned of Scoppettuolo’s association with the two con artists a year ago but failed to act until months after we started reporting on his misleading business practices in Pasco, Hillsborough and Collier counties.

At Wednesday’s commission meeting, Wesner told commissioners Ygrene terminated Scoppettuolo as an approved contractor as soon as the company found out he was sending out false advertising and taking advantage of consumers.

But our investigation discovered Ygrene first learned of Scoppettuolo’s business relationship with convicted swindlers a year ago, and learned he was sending out deceptive advertising in April in Pasco County.

Ygrene spokesman Jaquin McPeek previously told 8 On Your Side Scoppettuolo had been “suspended” but not fired. On Wednesday, McPeek said Ygrene “terminated” Scoppettuolo “within the past few days.”

McPeek says Ygrene has been operating for five years and has a good track record of handling 20,000 PACE loans.

Hillsborough Commissioner Les Miller believes Scoppettuolo and his associates deserve more than termination for taking advantage of unsuspecting elderly and disabled customers under the auspices of the government-sanctioned PACE financing program.

“We’re not going to run them out of Hillsborough County, we’re gonna lock ’em up for the things that they do. I mean to pray on the elderly and disabled and those that are misfortunate.”

The Hillsborough County Commission told Ygrene to return July 18 to explain the company’s policies that safeguard and protect consumers from unscrupulous business practices.

Meanwhile, Hillsborough consumer protection investigators have turned over complaints against Scoppettuolo and Summitwood to the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office for possible criminal prosecution.


Hillsborough wants Tampa to take over some roads; Buckhorn says no


By Christopher O’Donnell, Times Staff Writer


Published: June 8, 2018

Updated: June 8, 2018 at 05:03 PM


TAMPA — Rejected by the city of Tampa, road safety advocates this week turned to Hillsborough County commissioners in their campaign for more traffic calming measures and bike lanes on Bay to Bay Boulevard.

But while the county owns the road, it has virtually no say over it — nor over another 60 miles of county-owned roads that lie within the city.

That has commissioners suggesting it may be time to transfer them to the city.

“The bigger problem is we’re going to get caught in the middle on every county road project in the city that needs major changes to it like pedestrian crosswalks and safe streets,” said Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman. “Unfortunately, our hands are tied on this and legally tied on what we can do.”

But the idea may be dead on arrival: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city has no interest in taking ownership of county roads.

“They’ve been trying to sell us that broken-down car for a year,” Buckhorn said. “They can look at it all they want. Why would the city take over roads that are in disrepair?”

The brewing dispute could make it tougher for the county and city to reach a new maintenance agreement when their current deal expires at the end of September.

The county came to own roads within the city when they were transferred from state ownership decades ago. They include major thoroughfares like West Shore Boulevard, Columbus Drive and a section of Waters Avenue.

Under the current deal, the county pays for major maintenance like resurfacing, which for future projects is projected to cost $125,000 per lane mile.

The city’s responsibility is to mow grass, fix sidewalks and potholes, and operate and enforce traffic signals. But the city also chips in when it wants additional safety features like pedestrian crosswalks added to maintenance projects.

Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill acknowledged that the county would have to bring its roads up to a certain standard before they could be transferred to the city.

But Buckhorn said even then it would be unlikely the city would want to take on a long-term commitment to pay for their upkeep. The county has budgeted about $25 million this year for major road maintenance projects.

Residents and road safety advocates including non-profit advocacy group Walk Bike Tampa were among those seeking bike lanes and other traffic calming measures, including a Bay to Bay resurfacing project that’s expected to start this fall.

They renewed those calls recently after a mother and daughter were struck and killed on Bayshore Boulevard, also a county road.

The county is paying $650,000 toward construction of Bay to Bay while the city will chip in $120,000. The plan includes an additional turn lane at Bay-to-Bay and Bayshore and narrower lanes between Dale Mabry Hwy. and Esperanza Ave.

But the city refused to include bike lanes, arguing that the road is too busy and that parallel roads like Euclid and El Prado boulevards would be safer for those riding bicycles.

“Not every road is equipped nor should be a road that has a bike lane,” Buckhorn said.

John Lyons, the public works manager for Hillsborough County, said it might be more efficient if the two agencies were each responsible for their own roads. At the same time, Lyons said, the area’s road network needs to function seamlessly whether drivers are in the city or the county.

“It’s a grid system,” he said, “so the grid has to work together regardless of the jurisdiction of the road.”

Contact Christopher O’Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.


Hillsborough shelves plan for nine-member commission, but voters may still face changes


By Christopher O’Donnell, Times Staff Writer


Published: June 6, 2018

Updated: June 6, 2018 at 04:39 PM


TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners have shelved, at least for now, a plan to overhaul the structure of the commission, likely averting a political fight along party lines.

Commission Chairwoman Sandy Murman on Wednesday withdrew her proposal to eliminate countywide seats and, instead, create nine single-member districts. The idea, which required approval by voters, was opposed by Democrats on the commission who saw it as a political move to protect the Republican’s majority on the board.

But the commission is pushing ahead with a proposal to switch from partisan to non-partisan the elections for sheriff, property appraiser and other offices established in the state Constitution.

This move also was opposed by the commission’s two Democrats, Les Miller and Pat Kemp, and passed with votes from the commission’s five Republicans. If ballot language is approved by a majority of commissioners later this month, the issue will go to voters in the November general election.

It was Murman’s single-member district plan that most alarmed Democrats.

Hillsborough’s 1.4 million people now are represented by seven county commissioners — four elected in equally apportioned single-member districts and three elected countywide. The mix of district and countywide seats was intended to give residents a say in both their local communities and the county as a whole.

Citizens now vote in four of the seven commission races, equivalent to a majority of the board, but under Murman’s plan would vote for just one candidate for a board of nine members.

Murman called the move a response to the county’s fast-growing population. In her District 1 seat, which covers South Tampa and western Hillsborough County, she represents some 400,000 constituents. She would like to see each commissioner represent no more than about 150,000 residents.

Her plan was blasted by the Hillsborough League of Women Voters as too transforming to rush onto the November ballot, as Murman planned.

The group also warned that commissioners would end up clashing over projects in their respective districts without focusing on the county as a whole and that allowing the commission the final say on district boundaries would amount to a conflict of interest.

Murman acknowledged at the board meeting Wednesday that her idea still needed some work.

“It appeared to me there might have been some confusion about what it all means,” she said.

She still plans to push for a change in the makeup of the commission to present voters as early as 2020, taking effect after data is available from the 2020 Census for redrawing existing districts.

“We need to bring districts closer to the people,” Murman said.

A public hearing will be held June 20 on the plan to make the county’s constitutional offices non-partisan and on Miller’s proposal to raise the percentage needed for a countywide referendum to pass to 60 percent. If both proposals go to a referendum, they would need only a simple majority to pass.

The countywide races for tax collector and sheriff often are used by political parties as proof of their support in the community and to build momentum. In 2016, Democrats won all four countywide races on the general election ballot, with victories for incumbents Bob Henriquez in the property appraiser’s race and Clerk of the Court Pat Frank and a surprise victory in the state attorney’s race for newcomer Andrew Warren.

The offices of state attorney and public defender would remain partisan races under the proposal the county is advancing.

Kemp said she voted against switching to non-partisan races because people tend to be more engaged when party affiliation is declared on the ballot and the process produces better candidates.

She also noted that there has been no call from the public for a change and questioned why Republicans want to make it possible for their candidates to run for office without a party label.

“I imagine at one time identifying as a Republican may have helped you in that position and maybe no longer does,” Kemp said.

Republican Commissioner Ken Hagan said the idea has always made sense to him.

“I do not understand the relevance of a partisan tax collector or sheriff,” he said. “I certainly do not want a partisan elections supervisor.”

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