MICHAEL "MIKE" BENNETT, Republican
BIRTHPLACE: Brainerd, Minn.
FAMILY: Wife, Diane (Dee), no children
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in business, Drake University; M.B.A., Drake University
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Elected to Florida House of Representatives, 2000, elected to Florida Senate 2002. Has extensive business career as owner-operator of several small business enterprises. Have managed work forces exceeding 200 employees, managed budgets in excess of $10 million.
FUN FACT: Preparing for politics, received a letter in circus from Sarasota High School in 1962.
What attributes do you bring to this office that separate you from your opponent?
My qualifications for the office include serving 12 years in the Florida Legislature. I also have managed multiple businesses, managed large and small work forces and have an extensive background in managing budgets.
What do you see as the biggest challenges that will face the supervisor of elections in the next two to three years, and how would you propose these challenges be addressed?
The biggest challenges faced over the next few years will be managing the learning curve necessary to bring to the office the smooth operations that have been seen through the management of the current supervisor, Bob Sweat. The voting equipment will have to be evaluated and replaced as necessary. Attempting to find money for “ballot on demand” and retaining the current team. We will continue to fight for reducing the costs associated with the office, finding a balance between making it convenient to vote and controlling the costs associated with convenience.
What will be your three top priorities if you are elected?
The top priorities will be retaining a competent work force, replacing those who are leaving because of retirement and controlling costs. Hire, train and motivate.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been trying to purge the state’s registered voter rolls of illegal voters. Many people have protested that he is targeting minorities and Democrats. What is your view of Gov. Scott’s efforts — agree or disagree and why?
I agree with Gov. Scott on the purge of non-legal voter registration.
If elected, would you advocate to the Legislature that Florida require all voters to present a valid picture ID before they vote?
I have always believed that a picture ID should be required to vote, and proof of citizenship should be a requirement to register.
Americans routinely purchase goods and services through secure, online credit-card systems. What is your view of online voting?
Online voting scares me since we can’t even manage to secure the military secrets, or the privacy of individuals; to move into online voting will take time, and we are not there yet.
If elected, how will you make the supervisor of elections office more economically efficient?
We can save money by utilizing “ballot of demand” technology; we should be reviewing polling locations on a regular basis.
Agree or disagree: The minimum age limit for voting should be 21, not 18. Why?
It should be 18. If old enough to fight for the right to vote by serving in the military, then they should be allowed to express their opinion at the ballot box.
What is your vision for the office of the supervisor of elections?
My vision for the office of supervisor is to continue the traditions in place. Manatee County is ranked as one of the most efficient in the state. Whoever is elected will have to temper his desire to change things until he has a clear understanding of what that change would cause.
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