DiSabatino-Norwood rematch set for Manatee County Commission seat

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 7, 2014 

MANATEE -- Incumbent Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino filed for re-election Monday, setting up a rematch with one of the two rivals she beat in 2010 to win her first term.

DiSabatino, a Republican, filed to run in Commission District 4, according to the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website.

DiSabatino, 60, was first elected in 2010, defeating Tim Norwood and Norm Luppino in the Republican primary.

The high point of her first term was communicating with the citizens of her district, being there for them and listening, she said Monday.

"Just making sure I'm representing them," she added. "Defending neighborhoods and listening to them."

The low point was the day she got a warning for speeding in a school zone, she said.

DiSabatino originally hails from Wilmington, Del., and moved to Manatee County in 2004.

She worked as a real estate broker-associate, but once elected, placed her license on referral status in order to concentrate on matters before the commission.

DiSabatino and Norwood are the only candidates in the race so far.

Norwood said he likes DiSabatino and supported her in the general election against Democrat Roger Galle after narrowly losing to her in the primary. But crime and gang violence in District 4, along with a lack of leadership from DiSabatino, spurred him to enlist for a rematch, he said.

"If I felt like it wasn't necessary for me to be in this race, I wouldn't have bothered," Norwood said. "What I've seen in the past three years, the lack of leadership, it's a big deal. This county needs leadership in this position and that's what I bring to the table."

Norwood, who has called himself a "Tea Party Republican," is a manufacturing engineer with a degree in architecture. So far, Norwood has raised $11,475 in cash contributions and $997 in in-kind contributions, according to the elections website.

"It's not a garden party and we need solutions to the problems," said Norwood. "I intend to win the race."

Tea Party Manatee President Steve Vernon said his organization has not endorsed a candidate. The Tea Party will not endorse any candidate until spring, he said.

In the 2010 Republican primary, DiSabatino received 1,581 votes, or 37.1 percent; Luppino had 1,366 votes, or 32.1 percent; and Norwood had 1,310 votes, or 30.8 percent.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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