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"On The Road Again!"

The troops were “On the Road Again!”

The SOE vans left from two different areas of the county. Under the guidance and leadership of the Supervisor of Elections, the Hon. Paul A. Stamoulis and nine of his staff they were off to the semi-annual FSASE Conference.  “This is a great opportunity for my staff to network with peers, obtain valuable information regarding election processes and to gain the resources necessary to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.”

This year’s Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE) summer conference was held in St. Augustine, hosted by Penny Halyburton (St. John’s County SOE) and her staff.  No detail was left unattended to and none of her staff had anything but smiles and a very helpful attitude as the week ensued.

The Hon. Paul A. Stamoulis was happy to provide this opportunity to staff, as his goals are to aid each of them to grow professionally and gain the necessary expertise to meet the objectives of his office.  Realizing that the FSASE Mission Statement sums up all that is vital to his success (The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections (FSASE) is organized and exists to assist its members to conduct fair, honest and accurate elections by providing continuing education and certification programs that encourage the highest level of professionalism; to assist the citizens of Florida to become better informed about voting and be prepared to participate in the democratic process; and to create a forum for the Supervisors to express their joint opinions on important election issues.) Paul is determined to share as many of these opportunities with his staff as possible.

SOE Staff at FSASE 2009 Conference 

 Hon. Paul A.Stamoulis, Randy Ann Bechtel, Blanche House
Bonnie Parkinson, Lori Harney Russell, Paul Hale
Diane Verdon, Sandy Wharton, Chrisann Warn, Dawn Ayala
At Summer Conference 2009 FSASE in St. Augustine, FL!

Arriving for registration on Sunday, everyone checked in and then met for a greeting in the lobby.  The start of some excellent networking opportunities were found as other counties arrived.  Paul pitched his presentation to host the summer conference - 2011 to the Board of Directors, and felt very good about yet another opportunity to bring revenue to Charlotte County.

Bright and early on Monday morning there was breakfast and completion of the registration process.  Vendors were available throughout the conference for demonstrations and Q&A sessions, which enabled staff to garner information that will aid in progressive changes for the coming elections.  Monday also held an opportunity for the FSASE newest class of Supervisors to show us what they’ve got!  Each of the ten newly elected Supervisors of Elections performed for the audience, to kick the conference into full gear.  With a modicum of prejudice, it is to be noted that the Charlotte County SOE was by far the most animated and outgoing throughout their skit. Upon completion of their song and dance a conga line was seen to encircle the room as these newest leaders were seen snagging audience members along the way.

On a sad note, early on Tuesday, we learned of the sudden passing of the Hillsborough County, Supervisor of Elections, the Hon. Phyllis Busansky. Although only in office a short time, Phyllis had already made a distinct impact upon the County she was elected to serve.  Collier County Supervisor of Elections, and the 2008-09 President of FSASE, the Hon. Jennifer Edwards was quoted as saying, “This morning we learned of the loss of a good friend, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Phyllis Busansky. Our thoughts and prayers go out first to her family and loved ones. As elections officials and friends, we will remember Phyllis for the energy and professionalism she brought to her new role as Supervisor of Elections for Hillsborough County. Although she was in that role for just a short period of time, she made a tremendous impact on her peers, the process we all administer, and the voters of her county. Phyllis will be greatly missed.”  A general consensus was made by the Board of Directors, believing that it would have been Phyllis’s wish that the conference would continue.

Throughout the week there were sessions for all aspects of the day-to-day processes, rules and regulations, seminars and Certification classes, committee reports that affect each office, business meetings and break-out sessions for individual disciplines.  There were panel discussions regarding Best Practices, State Perspectives and Guidelines, Improving “Accessibility at the Polling Place” …, and workshops for all disciplines.  Scholarships were handed out as we learned more about our future leaders and our past accomplishments.

During the week we enjoyed presentations by two guest speakers.  Dr. Leo Mediavilla, a motivational speaker, whose session was titled “Got Energy?” discussed a variety of ways to look at situations and gain the most from them!  A second guest speaker, Josh Hallett, VOCE Communications discussed “New Media (aka Social Media) and the rapidly changing Public Relations/Communications Environment.  Each of the speakers shared their dynamic thoughts regarding how we can capitalize upon the fast paced and ever evolving world in which we live.  In spite of many changes, our focus and energies need to remain high, as we tap into all of the tools available at our fingertips.

On Wednesday, after a very full day of sessions the entire group enjoyed an address by the Secretary of State, Kurt Browning, at the Installation Dinner Banquet.  The Secretary opened his speech by paying tribute to the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections, the Hon. Phyllis Busansky.  He then spoke of the highlights from the active 2008 election year and encouraged all Supervisors to be aggressively pursuing implementation plans filled with the necessary progressive changes that will allow for a positive 2010 election cycle!  Mr. Browning addressed each of the outgoing Board of Directors, and Executive Committee members and then proceeded to swear in the 2009-2010 members.

Outgoing President, the Hon. Jennifer Edwards then gave her parting speech, handed out some personal tributes and introduced the newly sworn in President, the Hon. Mark Andersen, SOE from Bay County.  Mark gave his remarks and energized the audience as he challenged each of us to pursue our professional goals, think outside of the box and feel free to get involved in the various committees and opportunities to give back to our community and make a difference.  Under his tutelage, he acknowledged that he has some large shoes to fill, but pledged to fill them to the very best of his abilities as he works toward growing the organization.

It was a long but very productive week, filled with highs and lows. There was a moment of silence as we each took time to remember Phyllis Busansky and her staff and wished her successor well.  There was plenty of laughter as we enjoyed the skit put on by the newly elected Supervisors and enjoyed participating in the conga line. There was a plethora of information and networking opportunities, and there was reflective time for our staff to come together, bond and grow toward a common goal.

So, “On the Road Again” it was as the two vans returned filled with enlightened staff and a leader ready to pursue the goals set forth by his peers, the Secretary of State and by his own enlightenment.  The Hon. Paul A. Stamoulis is energized and ready to continue addressing the needs of the community, preparing for the next election cycle in 2010 and continuing to achieve his core mission, accurate and error-free elections!  Leading his troops forward after a great week of learning and growing Paul looks forward to his ability to have an impact on the community he has been elected to serve.  Fare well to summer 2009 FSASE conference and St. Augustine –Thanks for the Memories!