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Glantz, Sheldon and Adkins needed on county commission

Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:54 PM

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There will be a fresh set of faces on the Hernando County Commission following the General Election.

With two-term commissioner Jeff Stabins not seeking re-election and John Druzbick losing his bid for re-election in the primary, voters are guaranteed at least two of the three seats up for grabs will see change.

District 1, Arlene Glantz

Democrat Arlene Glantz, 69, has been making news since she first entered the race following the death of Glenn Claytor, who had been seeking the Democratic nomination.

While her opponents have been busy on the campaign trail, Glantz, a retired attorney with a master's degree in finance, has spent much of her time meeting with various county leaders — including County Administrator Len Sossamon — about ways to generate additional funds for the county.

One of her most intriguing ideas was to institute a tax on sweepstakes parlors, or Internet cafes, that have become commonplace around the county. With county and state officials seemingly getting nowhere fast on banning such business ventures, Glantz has borrowed an idea used in a handful of other Florida counties.

Glantz said the tax would be used to pay for regular checks of the equipment used for electronic gaming, which she said could bring a sense of legitimacy to the otherwise unregulated industry. She estimates more than 40 Internet cafes operate in Hernando County and believes a tax could generate at least $250,000 a year for county coffers.

Glantz also had other notable ideas, such as placing targeted inserts in library books that local businesses would pay for and focusing on everything from restaurants to nursing homes.

She also would like to explore finding corporate sponsors to advertise on park fences. She said that too could be targeted depending on the audience they want to reach.

Her competition in the upcoming election is Republican Nick Nicholson, 55, a civil engineer; Jeff Swilley Sr., who is running as an independent; Jose Luis Monegro, a write-in candidate. While Swilley and Monegro have likable personalities, neither possesses the background needed to serve on the board.

Nicholson, however, is a worthy candidate in his own right who cares about his community and has shown as much through his service on various government boards. He is a proponent of mass transit and believes the county should utilize economic incentives to lure new business to the community.

However, as we've mentioned before, he is too similar to those already on a board in dire need of diversity and a new way of thinking. It also doesn't help that Nicholson initially said he only plans to serve one term if elected. While he has since softened on that stance, the county needs someone who will be in it for the long haul as it often takes commissioners into their second term to achieve objectives.

Hernando Today recommends voters cast their ballots for Arlene Glantz in the Hernando County Commission District 1 race.

District 3, Greg Sheldon

The race for District 3 county commissioner has been anything but your run-of-the-mill campaign.

Diane Rowden, a Democrat and Jason Sager, a Republican, have gone toe-to-toe at various political forums and resorted to a variety of negative mailers in an effort to sway registered voters.

The latest development in the hotly contested race was Sager, 38, admitting he had an affair in the spring with the media liaison for his campaign. While his wife, Stephanie, has come out in support of her husband, it's hard to overlook his poor judgment in his personal life and the fact he is running on a platform of family values and faith — both of which have been compromised by the affair.

While Sager's candidacy has no doubt been damaged by this latest revelation, Rowden also has issues in her past to overcome.

Unlike Sager, whose main issue deals with his personal life, Rowden, 63, has made a series of bad judgments in her political life.

The most notable was in the early '90s when she was removed from the Hernando County School Board after it was determined she violated the Government-in-the-Sunshine Law by talking to a fellow school board member outside the confines of a public meeting.

Another high-profile issue concerned her time on the county commission, when in 2007 she flip-flopped on her stance concerning the fate of Spring Hill Fire. Initially she stood behind a plan to abolish the fire district. A week later, facing a mob of angry residents, she changed her mind and said the voters should decide.

It is this kind of grandstanding that brings into question Rowden's ability to be an effective commissioner.

It seems the career politician injects herself into whatever the hot-button issue of the moment is, whether it's the shrimpers at Hernando Beach concerned about the oil spill in the Gulf during her failed run for the state House in 2010 or acting as consultant for Republic Services following their botched takeover of the county's trash collection.

That's not to say Rowden hasn't done her share of good for the county.

Her efforts to help cut the property tax rate by 25 percent in her second term in office and her willingness to fight to protect the environment should be commended.

Having two major party candidates with flaws, voters are left with a tough decision to make.

It appears Greg Sheldon, who is running with no party affiliation, offers voters a credible option.

Sheldon, 33, owner and operator of GCLS Contracting Inc., has management experience and is proficient in crafting budgets.

A native of Pennsylvania, Sheldon has lived in Hernando County for more than 20 years, is a graduate of Central High School and is vested in our community.

He is not opposed to impact fees and understands the role they play in improving infrastructure. He also understands the need to attract new businesses through various incentives such as land, tax breaks or money.

Sheldon also plans to work with the school board to open an adult technical training facility to teach the unemployed the job skills needed to be valuable in the labor market.

In a race full of negative campaigning by the major party candidates, Sheldon has kept his nose clean and has earned a shot to serve the county.

Hernando Today recommends voters cast their ballots for Greg Sheldon in the Hernando County Commission District 3 race.

District 5, Jim Adkins

Jim Adkins, a first-term Republican commissioner, has faced a fierce challenge by his fiery Democratic challenger Ramon Gutierrez in the race for Hernando County Commission District 5.

The candidates have used various political forums to trade jabs back and forth concerning each of their ideas to improve the county.

Gutierrez, 60, a real estate agent and former restaurateur, said he will work with business development to target and solicit diversified industry to the county.

He has also put together a "Moving Hernando Forward" plan for economic development, which he hopes to implement if elected.

Gutierrez favors instituting a one-cent sales tax similar to what's done in Pasco and Pinellas counties. He wants to use the money to build up reserves and attract new businesses.

He also plans to work to streamline the licensing process and make Hernando County more business friendly.

Adkins, 63, wants to continue with his efforts to build up the airport and surrounding industrial park by offering incentives for relocating and existing manufacturers that expand. Although it's worth mentioning he did vote against accepting federal money to build the air traffic control tower at the airport, which went against the wishes of many local businesses owners who believe the tower is vital to future expansion.

Adkins also wants to focus on the east side of the county, which he has called an economic engine that has yet to reach its potential.

While he initially supported eliminating impact fees, he is now willing to consider implementing them if they are used for their intended purpose.

Adkins has also been a champion for bringing high-speed wireless communication companies interested in providing countywide coverage, which would certainly come in handy when attracting new businesses to the area.

During his first four years in office, he certainly has made some questionable decisions.

The most notable was his decision to vote against raising taxes early on but never saying how specifically the shortfall was going to be made up. In the end, he voted in favor of the millage rollback in an effort to balance the 2012-13 budget.

Gutierrez certainly offers a viable alternative to Adkins.

However, while Adkins has his shortcomings, there is no questioning his commitment to the county and that he has the residents' best interest at heart and should receive a second term to finish the work he started.

Hernando Today recommends voters cast their ballots for Jim Adkins in the Hernando County Commission District 5 race.

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