Lake County House races attract new Democrats
Democrats Crissy Stile and Linda Kero file to run for HD 31 and HD 32 in Lake County.

Crissy Stile and LInda Kero
Crissy Stile files to run in HD 31, Linda Kero in HD 32.

A Mount Dora City Council member and a Lake County Democratic Party activist from Leesburg have joined Democratic fields to try to flip House seats in the largely red, Lake County-based House District 31 and House District 32.

Earlier this week Crissy Stile, an at-large Mount Dora City Council member, filed to run in House District 31, seeking to represent northeastern Lake County and northwestern Orange County.

She’s entering a contest in which incumbent Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan withdrew her bid for reelection in March, citing her desire to spend more time focusing on her new family.

Retired journalist and consultant Debra Kaplan of Eustis has been seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination there for about a year now, after losing to Sullivan in the 2018 general election.

Sullivan’s exit led to quick entries of two other Republicans, chiropractor Dr. Randy Glisson of Eustis, who lost a Republican primary to Sullivan in 2014, and farmer Keith Truenow of Tavares.

Last week, Linda Kero of Leesburg filed to run in House District 32, making her one of three Democrats wanting a shot at Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini of Howey in the Hills.

Already in that contest are Democrats web consultant Ryan Morales and Stephanie Dukes, both of Clermont.

Stile owns and runs a bookstore in Mount Dora’s historic downtown shopping district. She settled there after a career in corporate accounting and management with corporations in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Orlando, according to her City Council biography.

She has lived in Mount Dora since 2005. She’s been active in the Community Redevelopment Advisory Committee and was elected to an at-large seat on the City Council in 2018.

Stile said she was drawn into politics by the feeling that city hall affected so much, and no one seemed to know what was going on. So she ran on a pledge that, if elected, she’d try hard to keep constituents informed. After two years in office, she decided she wanted to do the “same thing, on a larger scale. … My goal is to improve quality of life,” she said. “My big thing is listening.”

Kero is retired from a real estate career, flipping houses in Illinois. She and her now-late husband Paul Kero retired to Lake County in 2017, after being regular visitors for many years. After he passed away from brain cancer, she got involved in local volunteering, including with the Lake County Democratic Party.

The coronavirus crisis has redoubled her belief that Florida must improve access to health care coverage for all Floridians. Kero also is passionate in her desire to protect Florida’s natural resources, particularly its lakes and parks, and to invest to improve public education.

She also believes Lake County is not represented well, charging that Sabatini, known as a staunch conservative, lacks the inclusive, generous, and empathetic spirit she said the majority of residents of Lake County have.

“I think in these hard times, and it’s not going to get better fast, we need empathy,” Kero said. “We need someone who doesn’t think there’s only one way, and that’s the only way, that you are born with money and you get to live a privileged life. It’s not that way for many people, for very many people.”

In 2018, Sullivan defeated Kaplan by a  margin of 61-39, while Sabatini beat Democrat Cynthia Brown 56-44.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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