BROOKSVILLE - Since moving to Hernando County in 1988, Laurie Pizzo has worn many hats by selling real estate, chairing community boards and dabbling in social issues.
Pizzo hopes to add to that list with yet another title: county commissioner.
The Spring Hill resident filed Thursday with the elections office to run as a Republican representing District 4, the seat currently occupied by Republican Dave Russell, who is stepping down next year.
Russell has thrown his support behind Pizzo, who works for Keller Williams Tampa Properties.
Democrat Dan Oliver has also filed with the elections office to run for the District 4 seat. Oliver is Teamsters steward and a county facilities maintenance technician
Pizzo, 46, said she has been involved with politics but the timing was never right to run for office.
She believes the time is now.
"I am a public servant at heart," she said.
As county commissioner, Pizzo said she will focus on attracting higher-paying jobs to Hernando County by forming strong partnerships with the educational community and making sure the word gets out that the area has a first-class airport and industrial complex, ready access to transportation routes and infrastructure-ready locations for prospective industry.
The county has already worked on strengthening economic development but there is always room for "improving our transportation infrastructure and protecting our water resources" and working with local business and community leaders, she said.
"This is a wonderful place to live and we can always improve on that," Pizzo said.
Pizzo said she is honored that Russell is backing her in the campaign and she plans to emulate his leadership style.
"I have always admired his statesmanship, his ability to look at the issues and make an informed decision," she said.
Pizzo said she wants to attend as many community forums and events to learn what is on people's minds.
Russell is endorsing Pizzo to succeed him to the District 4 seat.
"Having worked closely with (her) for many years, I know her to be a dedicated, hard-working individual who has the people's best interest at heart," Russell said in a prepared statement.
"Laurie's years of public service through numerous state and local organizations, coupled with her strong business acumen, have helped hone leadership skills necessary that make her the best candidate for the office of Hernando County Commissioner District 4," Russell said.
A native of Chicago, Pizzo has served on committees related to public policy involving legislative and regulatory research and state-local taxation.
She serves on the government affairs committee for the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and Hernando County Association of Realtors.
Pizzo is on the community advisory council for HCA Oak Hill Hospital and Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County. She is chairwoman on the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, having been appointed to the post by former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and reappointed by Speaker of the Florida House Dean Cannon.
Pizzo has three cats named Pepper, Molly and Simba. She enjoys traveling, canoeing, kayaking and working out at the gym.