Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

Hernando Commission hopeful says radical plan will boost revenue, paychecks

Ramon Gutierrez, the Democrat seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Jim Adkins from the District 5 County Commission seat, announced his "Moving Hernando Forward" plan last week.

The plan features a number of steps that Gutierrez says would help bring more good-paying jobs to Hernando. It includes simplifying the permitting process, increasing the number of college graduates in the county and establishing some sort of temporary sales tax or other non-ad-valorem revenue-generating method. He says that would allow the county to build a pool of money to be used as incentives to entice industries that offer higher-paying jobs to locate in the county.

Gutierrez also favors replacing the transportation impact fee with a mobility fee, such as the one in place in Pasco County, which serves to direct certain types of development into previously determined areas.

An evaluation of the county's future infrastructure needs should determine the level of impact fees in the other categories, Gutierrez says.

His plan also includes requiring bids for goods and services to first be solicited from local providers, supporting efforts to create adult technical education programs locally, meeting with county department heads to conduct a line-by-line review of budget expenditures and converting all public buildings to green technology to save enough money to give employees pay raises.

Gutierrez last week also got the endorsement of Jimmy Lodato, whom Adkins beat in the Republican primary. In a letter to Gutierrez, Lodato noted that his goals for economic development for Hernando County track the plan put forth by Gutierrez.

Adkins has been touting the county's successes in drawing new industries and expansions of existing companies through the strategies already in place.

The most recent example of that, Adkins said at a political forum last week, could be seen in the announcement by Accuform Signs two weeks ago that the company will add 271 jobs over the next several years and build a $15 million, 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

Moving in, just in case

The winner of the Hernando supervisor of elections race isn't required to be a resident of the county until assuming office in January, but Elizabeth Townsend got the move out of the way early.

Townsend, currently the director of operations for the elections office and the Democratic candidate for the office, has moved to the Spring Ridge development off Sunshine Grove Road, west of Brooksville. She had lived in Wesley Chapel since 2008 and commuted to work.

She's renting a house for now, but said that may change if she wins the job, which has a four-year term.

Townsend faces Republican nominee Shirley Anderson in the Nov. 6 election.

Rally supports pair

Retiring Hernando County Commissioner Jeff Stabins will host a rally for Democratic County Commission candidates Diane Rowden and Ramon Gutierrez from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Delta Woods Park, 3400 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill.

There will be live music, free hot dogs and cold drinks, including sweet tea.

Rowden is running in District 3 against Republican Jason Sager and no-party candidate Greg Sheldon; Gutierrez is running in District 5 against incumbent Republican Commissioner Jim Adkins.

Stabins was a lifelong Republican until he quit the party in May and switched to no party affiliation, saying he was disillusioned with the direction of the Grand Old Party.

He said his reason for supporting the Democrats for the District 3 and 5 seats is "because they are not Jason Sager and Jim Adkins. Need I say more?''

Stabins is supporting the Republican running for his District 1 seat, his friend Nick Nicholson. The Democrat in that race is Arlene Glantz, and Independent Joseph Swilley is also seeking the seat.

Times staff writers Barbara Behrendt, Phyllis Day and Tony Marrero contributed to this report.

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