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Pinellas County Commission District 2

Democrat Calvin Harris, in office since 1997, seeks another term against frequent candidate Norm Roche, who is making his fourth try for the board. He has changed parties, but the issues are the same: Roche's assault on county spending vs. Harris' sunny view of the future. David DeCamp, Times staff writer

About the job: County commissioners are paid $90,687 a year. The seven-member board oversees spending, development decisions and social services, as well as parks and other venues. Candidates, including two write-ins, live in District 2 in west and North Pinellas, but people countywide vote.

More about these candidates

Calvin Harris, 69

D Norm Roche, 48

Business manager
Harris was appointed to the County Commission in 1997, then elected in 1998, 2002 and 2006. He was the first African-American elected to the Pinellas County Commission. He previously was a teacher and a St. Petersburg College administrator. He has been involved in numerous nonprofits such as the Salvation Army and the Pinellas Education Foundation, and remains active on various college advisory boards. Experience After failing to win three times as a Democrat, Roche is running as a Republican to reach his longtime goal. A business development and environmental safety coordinator for an earth sciences company, Roche previously was an employee in Pinellas' utility department. He served on the county juvenile justice council, and has volunteered in schools. He also served as chairman of the county's Employee Advisory Council.
Doctorate in education, Nova Southeastern University, 1975; master's degree, Truman State, 1970. Education Pinellas Park High School, 1980 graduate; attended Eckerd College.
"I think light rail is inevitable and an integral part of our economic growth. I support the local option transportation sales tax. However, it should be coupled with a repeal of the property tax for transportation. Light rail, the high speed rail and the Rays are an integral part of the economic growth and development of Pinellas." Do you support Pinellas' pursuit of a light rail line to connect Tampa with St. Petersburg and Clearwater? "Pinellas taxpayers have funded more than one study on the feasibility of light rail in Pinellas County. Those studies have concluded that light rail is not practical here in Pinellas. There have been no substantive changes nor is there any reason to expect that the newest study … should result in a different conclusion."
"We need to have a summit with team officials, representatives of all Pinellas County governments, business leaders, and other regional organizations to select a site and begin the design phase of a modern stadium. Funding will be a partnership between Major League Baseball, the state, the Rays and the county." What role, if any, should Pinellas County play in the debate about a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays? "I believe that one is only as good as his/her word and we have a contract — period. We also have a debt to be paid based on that contract — period. Any discussion must begin with how we are going to rectify those two facts first — period."
"We can close the gap in several ways. First we need to revisit our strategic plan and re-prioritize based on the new financial realities. These realities include a complete study of our staffing model and salary structure. We need to examine our purchasing habits and be more enterprising. … Even though we have less money and fewer employees, we still appear to replace vehicles … on the same schedule. This has to cease!" Pinellas County is facing a budget shortfall of more than $70 million over the next two years. What should be done to close that gap? "I do not subscribe to the doom and gloom mentality when it comes to the budget correction we're experiencing today. And let me be clear on my position here: from my perspective, what we're experiencing in Pinellas County is not a budget deficit or shortfall, rather it is a budget correction — a correction that should have been expected as a result of unfettered and wasteful spending habits by our county's leadership."
Home, stocks, investments. Assets Home.
Mortgage, loan. Liabilities Mortgage, loan.
Commission salary, college pension. Income Gannett Fleming salary.
Married with three children, lives in Clearwater. Personal Married with three children, lives in Clearwater. Website E-mail

Pinellas County Commission District 2 10/12/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:37pm]
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