Candidates lining up in Hernando County

BROOKSVILLE — Political races in Hernando County are heating up, with candidates filing this week for the County Commission, property appraiser and Brooksville City Council.

Ramon Gutierrez, 59, prequalified to run as a Democrat in the District 5 County Commission race. A real estate agent and former restaurant owner, Gutierrez ran unsuccessfully for the District 1 seat in 2008 but lives in District 5.

Jim Adkins, a Republican, is the incumbent in District 5. Michael Barsanti, also a Republican, and Paul Douglas, who is running with no party affiliation, are also seeking the seat.

Gutierrez, who has been in Hernando County since 1986, said he decided to run again because, after hearing all of the promises from candidates four years ago, he is disappointed that nothing has changed.

He said he would push for the county to find new ways to bring events, people and money into the county to take the burden of paying for services off the taxpayers. Gutierrez said he still believes that bringing bike races, mud bogging events, pine box derbies and other similar events to the county would be a help.

Gutierrez also supports development of an adult vocational school so the workforce is ready when county officials bring new industries into the community.

He said Hernando County has many assets and it is time to find a way to tap into them. "We have the potential to make Hernando County a shining star,'' he said.

Kevin Hohn, the former IRS investigator who won appointment to the Brooksville City Council Seat 4 last year, filed paperwork with the elections supervisor's office Monday to seek election in November.

Hohn and former city attorney Robert "Butch" Battista were among two finalists last August to temporarily fill the position vacated when former council member Emory Pierce resigned to take a city manager's job. When council members were unable to break a tie vote, both candidates' names were put into a hat. Hohn was the winner.

So far, Hohn's only challenger in the race is longtime Brooksville resident Vivian "Vi" Coogler. Coogler lost a bid for County Commission in 2006, and was a school board candidate briefly in 2008 before dropping out.

Hohn retired from the IRS in 2005 and later became a public records computer software specialist for Thomson Reuters. He left the company at the end of December.

Since joining the council, Hohn has cast pivotal votes on several key issues, including the decision to reinstate red-light cameras.

Two other council seats, Seat 2, which is occupied by Frankie Burnett, and Seat 3, now held by Mayor Joe Johnston III, are also up for election. So far, no one has prequalified for those seats.

Brooksville businessman James "Jamie" Williams is seeking to challenge John Emerson to replace Alvin Mazourek, who has announced his plans to retire as the county's property appraiser.

Williams prequalified Wednesday with no party affiliation. Emerson, who serves as chief deputy for the office, is a Republican.

Williams is the owner of T & A Roofing in Brooksville. He could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434. Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or lneill@tampabay.com.

Candidates lining up in Hernando County 04/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 5:58pm]

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