Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Retiring school superintendent has right perspective for politics

Bryan Blavatt is leaving his job as superintendent of Hernando County schools this week but plans to keep living here, to stay involved in public business somehow, some way.

"I'm not going anywhere," he likes to say.

Given his performance as superintendent, it will be good to have him in the mix.

You want a detailed look at Blavatt's successes and failures, an analysis of whether the district's academic performance improved on his watch? The Times' Danny Valentine is writing all about it for Sunday's paper.

For now, just consider the mess Blavatt inherited from his predecessor, Wayne Alexander, and I think you have to admit a lot of it has been cleaned up. I think most people would say he helped restore credibility to his position with the blunt approach he promised when he started three years ago. Having come out of retirement, he told the School Board, he didn't need the superintendent's job.

Personally, I'd like to see how this tactic of not treating his job like a popularity contest would work out in a field that is nothing but — politics.

Twice retired and 67 years old, Blavatt needs a job even less now than he did then. If that means he could be more straightforward — could point out when things in Brooksville or Tallahassee are "dysfunctional," which is what he once told the board — then hooray! It may not benefit a potential political career but would benefit we voters and spectators.

Another potential plus?

Blavatt's a Democrat.

This is not an argument for that particular party, but for balance, for the idea that two parties are better than one.

Among registered voters in Hernando, the ratio of Republicans to Democrats is 52 percent to 48 percent. In the tally of local and statewide elected officials from Hernando in partisan jobs, it's 12 to 1, and if not for a sex scandal last year involving Republican County Commission candidate Jason Sager, it would almost certainly be 13 to 0.

Republican views aren't that dominant. The party's organization and fundraising networks are.

To see how Blavatt might start to shift this balance, let's say he challenges the Republican candidate running for the state representative seat that covers most of Hernando — Blaise Ingoglia.

Ingoglia, as vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, isn't just a cog in the machine that delivers special interest money to politics; he's a driving force.

He's a home builder who during the boom used misleading pitches to court speculative buyers. He's a former tournament poker player.

In the hands of a candidate as well known and well qualified as Blavatt, this kind of ammunition might be enough to bring in money from the state Democratic Party.

And could a strong Democratic challenger cause Republicans to seek another candidate who, unlike Ingoglia, respects government enough to pay his or her property taxes on time? We can dream.

No, Blavatt doesn't need this job. He's got two children and a grandchild to spend time with, and the wishes of his wife, Barbara, to consider.

So the question is, does he want it — this job or any other elected position?

He's always followed politics, he said. He'd love to inject what he thinks are his own reasonable opinions into the process. He hasn't ruled out some sort of run.

"The idea is germinating," he said.

He might not win. But we would.

Comments
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