The issue: Hernando County School Board District 4 race.
Our opinion: Gus Guadagnino understands the big picture and will offer a unique perspective from the business community in helping deal with a dwindling budget.
In the race for the District 4 seat on the Hernando County School Board, there is no shortage of qualified candidates to fill the seat currently held by James Yant.
Yant is not seeking re-election.
Each candidate was well versed on the various issues facing the district — from dealing with a budget deficit to the controversial move to eliminate courtesy busing and coping with the state's ever-changing FCAT standards.
The race features four candidates, two of whom have run for political office in the past — Gustave "Gus" Guadagnino, 58, and Robert Neuhausen, 44.
Rounding out the group are political newcomers Helen Villafane, 68, a retired educator and assistant principal from New York, and Michael Angelo Gordon, 51, a retired warehouse worker, CNA and medical driver.
Villafane is a school literacy volunteer who said she was inspired to run for office through her volunteer work with teens and seeing first-hand unmet student needs.
Villafane advocates reinstituting courtesy busing and is against charging fees for students to play sports. There's no doubt she has the children's best interests at heart, but she lacks specifics about how keep a variety of services off the chopping block while facing a declining tax base.
Gordon's platform is focused on an anti-bullying campaign in the schools and is opposed to character education. However, like Villafane, Gordon is short when it comes to specifics on ways the district can reduce expenses. Declining the school district's insurance and paying out-of-pocket for his travel is just a drop in the bucket.
That leaves Neuhausen, who lost his first bid for school board in 2008, and Guadagnino, who in 2008 lost his bid for supervisor of elections.
Both applied for but weren't selected by the governor in 2011 to fill an open school board seat.
Both candidates are respected members of the community who desire to serve their community by ensuring the best quality public education for the children of Hernando County.
Neuhausen, an engineer and manager at Sparton Electronics, has three children in the school system and has been active for a number of years on school advisory councils and parent-teacher associations.
Through his volunteer work he has developed a close relationship with many teachers and administrators in the district, which he could draw upon if elected to the school board.
Neuhausen would like to revisit courtesy busing, especially for those in elementary school, is against eliminating middle school and junior varsity sports but favors limiting afterschool activities to four days per week, thus saving energy and maintenance costs.
Like Neuhausen, Guadagnino, owner of Joni Industries and Seaboard Pencil, has been active in education through his involvement as president of the Hernando County Education Foundation, Pasco Hernando Community College foundation and Big Brother/Big Sister in Hernando County.
He would look to utilize those ties to further develop the district's relationship with local businesses and bolster the district's internship opportunities.
His experience in streamlining an organization and purchasing savvy coupled with his inside knowledge of the needs of teachers, students and parents would serve the district well.
Gaudagnino is also a staunch believer that money needs to go inside the classroom first, while everything else is secondary.
However, he is against eliminating middle school and junior varsity sports and instead favors charging a player fee or renting out the ball fields or other facilities to reduce the burden on the district.
Unlike Neuhausen, Gaudagnino is semi-retired, and could likely devote more time to a district that needs the extra attention.
Hernando Today recommends voters cast their ballots for Guadagnino.