Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Three vie for Pasco commission District 2 GOP primary

WESLEY CHAPEL — Pasco Republicans have a choice among two up-and-comers and a political veteran for the District 2 County Commission primary election.

Ken Littlefield served in the state House from 1999 to 2006. He ran against Commissioner Pat Mulieri in 2010, losing in the primary. Littlefield, 70, says he enjoys making public policy, which is why he jumped back into politics.

Bob Robertson, 57, a financial adviser, serves on the county's Library Advisory Board and Restore Act Committee. Until a month ago, he also served on the Lake Bernadette Community Development District, an elected position he had held since 2008. He says he's passionate about community service and wants to bring that enthusiasm to the commission.

And Mike Moore, a 43-year-old business owner, says the commission needs fresh ideas. He's making his first run for public office since a failed bid in 2010 for a mosquito control district position — but in some ways he's the odds-on favorite.

Moore has amassed the biggest campaign chest and enjoys the most clout as president of the Wesley Chapel Republican Club. He's also piled up endorsements, from Sheriff Chris Nocco and Commission Chairman Jack Mariano to state House Speaker Will Weatherford and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

Campaign finance reports show Moore has pulled in more than $90,000 and spent more than $65,000 on his campaign. In contrast, Littlefield has raised barely $9,000 and Robertson about $13,000. Together, the two have spent about $17,000 — roughly a quarter of what Moore has spent.

The money could be key. With 15,000 more Republicans than Democrats in Pasco, Republicans are favorites by default in general elections, making the primaries the races to watch. The three are vying to take on Democrat Erika Remsberg in November to replace Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who's retiring after 20 years.

Mulieri, meanwhile, has endorsed Robertson, citing his conservative credentials and insight into county government. He attends virtually every commission meeting and was among the first graduates of Pasco's Citizens Academy, which uses tours and lectures to educate citizens about government's inner-workings.

On issues, the three vary only in approach. On transportation, they agree on the need to expand and improve Pasco's roads, but differ over funding the work. Moore backs a gradual approach based on rising property assessments over several years to boost county revenue. In the interim, he'd spend reserve money from highway accounts on high-priority projects.

The other two would take steps to boost road funding now. Robertson backs higher gas taxes, but would lessen the impact on drivers by redirecting revenue from the Real Estate Transfer Fund and by revamping the county's paving assessment program by adding new payment schedules to increase cash flow.

Littlefield said "everything is on the table" when it comes gas taxes, property taxes or a combination to fund road work. "Whatever it takes."

The three also hold similar views on transforming Pasco into "a premier county." Robertson and Moore say job creation is the key. Littlefield said a "robust economy" is the main issue.

Robertson would broaden support for the county's Economic Development Council to attract employers: "While there are numerous housing communities planned for our county, we need to do more now to provide quality jobs for the residents that are already here."

Moore would streamline permitting and create a relocation task force of government and business leaders to market Pasco to businesses looking to move. He said he would "personally seek out companies that are looking to relocate."

Littlefield did not specify how to improve the economy, although he suggested making changes in permitting. He would insist building permits include a provision for services: "Growth must pay for itself and also provide a stream of revenue for maintenance of proposed projects."

Contact Rich Shopes at rshopes @tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236. Follow @richshopes.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18