State Sen. Alan Hays has filed to run for the supervisor of elections office in Lake County rather than to stay in the Florida Senate.

Hays, who still could run for a two-year term in the Florida Senate, filed instead Monday to replace a legend in Lake County, Supervisor Emogene W. Stegall, who has run the elections office there for 44 years, and worked in the office for 14 years prior to that.

Stegall, 89, announced her retirement last fall, saying she would step down at the end of this term.

“You still gotta put up with me for another 11 months, the Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” she said.

Hays, a Republican whose Senate District 11 covers all of Lake County plus parts of Orange, Sumter and Marion counties, was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving six years in the Florida House.

He said he decided to run locally this year because he believes his 12 years in the Legislature and “almost 30 years running my own business” has qualified him for what is an administrative office. And he wants to stay home closer to his grandchildren. Beyond that, he said he was attracted to the non-parisan nature of a supervisor of elections office.

“The supervisor of elections is as close as you can get to a non-political, non-partisan position, and those who know me know I’m far more about policy than politics,” Hays said.

Hays also noted that with his departure, his successor could parlay the two-year term assigned to his district for this election into 10 years in office, giving Lake County additional clout.

However, his election in Lake is no given. He is not the only candidate seeking to succeed Stegall.

Other candidates include two Republicans, Eustis Mayor Michael Holland and Margie Eaton; Democrat Christopher James Flint; and independent Scott K. Larson.

Lake County is an overwhelmingly Republican county, with 90,000 registered Republicans, 66,000 Democrats and 51,000 independents or other party members.

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