THE ISSUE: Hernando County School Board District 4 race.
OUR OPINION: Gus Guadagnino has the time, experience and business acumen needed to take board to new heights.
One thing is certain in the race for the District 4 seat on the Hernando County School Board: both candidates are more than qualified to fill the seat being vacated by James Yant.
Each candidate has shown to be well versed on the issues facing the district — from dealing with a budget deficit to the process needed to hire a new superintendent.
The race features two candidates, both of whom have run for political office in the past — Gustave "Gus" Guadagnino, 58, and Robert Neuhausen, 44.
Both applied for but weren't selected by the governor in 2011 to fill an open school board seat that was eventually given to Matt Foreman.
Both candidates are respected members of the community who desire to serve the school district 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.
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, the Pasco-Hernando Community College Foundation and Big Brother/Big Sister in Hernando County.
One of the main differences between the two candidates is whether the new superintendent should be a local person.
Neuhausen favors hiring someone within the county who already understands the various challenges the district currently faces.
Guadagnino puts more stock in a candidate's overall qualifications rather than where they come from. In our opinion, qualifications should trump where a person happens to live.
Another key difference is Neuhausen supports having the superintendent post be elected while Guadagnino favors the current method of the board selecting the district's leader.
Electing a superintendent is not a favorable approach, and while the district has struggled at times with hiring a superintendent, the current process should continue and allows the board a greater pool to choose from. One only has to look down the road at the mess created in Pasco County to see why an elected superintendent isn't a good idea.
There is no doubt both candidates care deeply about education in Hernando County and want to better prepare students for the future. In the end it really comes down to who voters believe would have the time to devote to making things happen.
While being on the school board isn't a full-time job, unlike Neuhausen, Guadagnino is semi-retired, and could likely devote more time to a district that needs all the attention it can get.
Hernando Today recommends voters cast their ballots for Guadagnino.