Jason Sager, the Republican candidate for the District 3 County Commission seat, says he has a plan to put Hernando — with its 10.8 percent unemployment rate — back to work.
His economic development plan, released last week, includes:
• Stabilizing the tax rates for both residential and commercial properties.
• Cutting redundant regulations.
• Centralizing the government review of plans for new and existing businesses.
• Actively seeking both manufacturing and high-tech businesses.
Sager says that if all of the government players involved in the opening or expansion of a business could sit together and walk a business through the process, the business owner would feel more welcome and wouldn't be surprised by the process.
The system also would allow the county to gather information on businesses that decide to go elsewhere, allowing Hernando to improve its process.
Sager, a tea party favorite, said the plan fits perfectly with his smaller government philosophy. No one is added to the county staff, he noted.
He acknowledged that some of his more libertarian-leaning supporters have voiced concerns about the plan, but he said he convinced them that business and government will always have interactions. He just thinks they should be more efficient.
While he says he supports tax breaks as incentives, he is not in favor of offering cash incentives to businesses. He says the county simply isn't in a position financially to do that.
If the property tax rate were more stable, it would help businesses with multi-year projections, Sager said. He said he also would work to lower the tangible tax rate to help businesses.
Previously an opponent of the new airport control tower, Sager said the issue is now moot since the structure has been completed. He said the county should use it to its advantage. Another part of his plan is to try to attract flight schools to the area.
Diane Rowden, the Democrat in the District 3 race, scoffed at Sager's plan, saying she has been working directly with businesses in the community, including one at the airport, for months before she decided to run.
"Actions speak louder than words, Mr. Sager,'' she said.
Rowden also noted that the county's business development manager, Mike McHugh, has been working to bring flight schools and other aviation-related businesses to the local airport for a decade.
Greg Sheldon, who is running as a no-party candidate in the race, said he has made economic development and the need for adult technical training front-burner issues in his campaign.
"If we do those things, then everything else is going to fall into place,'' he said.
Sheldon also noted that, as the only candidate in the race who owns a business, he can relate to business people's issues.
GOP party chief wants to go for jugular
A recent letter from Blaise Ingoglia, Hernando County's Republican Party leader, makes his goal for this year's election clear: He doesn't want a single Democrat holding office in Hernando once the final ballots are counted.
In a letter Ingoglia sent to Republicans last week, he blasted District 3 County Commission candidate Diane Rowden, a Democrat, saying: "In 2008, Hernando County residents finally had enough of the big government and anti-business rhetoric coming from Diane Rowden'' and voted her out of office.
Ingoglia then stated that the supervisor of elections is the last elected position in the county not held by a Republican and that a Republican in the office could do a better job of getting out the vote and reporting election night results. He urged a vote for Republican supervisor of elections candidate Shirley Anderson over her opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Townsend, the office's current operations director.
"Now we have a chance to keep Diane Rowden off the Hernando County Commission and have Republicans in every partisan seat in Hernando,'' Ingoglia wrote.
Then he asked for donations.
"I'm in for $500,'' he wrote, then directed people to a website to make a political contribution "to help us make this an historic Hernando election.''
Brookridge to host candidate forum
The Brookridge community will host a "Meet the Candidates" forum from 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at the clubhouse, 8150 Hampton St., Brookridge.
Candidates will present their platforms. After a question-and-answer period, there will be refreshments.
All Hernando County residents are welcome.
For information, call Lois at (352) 584-5544.
School Board hopeful to host fundraiser
A fundraiser for Robert Neuhausen, a candidate for the Hernando County School Board District 4 seat, will be from noon to 10 p.m. Oct. 8 at Sweet Frog, 1867 Commercial Way, Spring Hill.
The business will donate 10 percent of customers' bills to Neuhausen's campaign. For a copy of the flier needed to have the donation made, visit voteforrobert2012.com, Facebook (Rob Neuhausen for Hernando County School Board District 4), or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staff writers Barbara Behrendt and Phyllis Day contributed to this report.