Friday, April 20, 2018
Politics

Mike Wells ousts incumbent for Pasco Commission seat

Henry Wilson will be a one-termer, just like the incumbent he upset nearly four years ago to win a seat on the Pasco County Commission.

GOP primary opponent Mike Wells soundly defeated Wilson in the winner-take-all contest for commission District 4, according to unofficial results.

"It's been fun from the beginning," Wells said. "I know a lot of people, and it comes down to getting out there and listening to them."

Wells, 43, said he is ready to dive in and get heavily involved with the Pasco Economic Development Council as well as animal and human services.

In the contest to see who will represent the GOP for the commission's District 2 seat in the Nov. 4 general election, Mike Moore won handily in a three-way race that included former state Rep. Ken Littlefield and financial adviser Bob Robertson.

"Everybody here is happy," said Moore, 43, who hosted an election party at his home. He downplayed his huge campaign chest and heavyweight endorsements in favor of grass roots volunteers who carried signs and knocked on doors.

"Now we want to go meet our friends who are Democrats and independents," he said.

This was a first run for Wells, the son of Mike Wells Sr., a former county commissioner and the current property appraiser. He said his leadership skills as a former regional manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car made him the more qualified candidate.

He ran on a mostly antitax platform, opposing an increase in the tourism tax paid by hotel guests and higher property tax rates.

He also expressed reluctance to increase the gasoline tax to pay for road construction and maintenance, but later said he would have to examine the issue.

Wilson, who favored increasing tourism taxes and property tax rates to restore previous cuts to parks and libraries, stunned the county four years ago when he unseated Michael Cox, a pro-business Democrat and former Port Richey mayor.

This was Moore's first run for public office since a failed bid in 2010 for a mosquito control district position.

He was the early front-runner. He enjoyed the most clout as president of the Wesley Chapel Republican Club, piling up endorsements from Sheriff Chris Nocco and Commission Chairman Jack Mariano, state House Speaker Will Weatherford and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

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

Moore will face Democrat Erika Remsberg to replace Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who's retiring after 20 years.

On transportation, Moore backed a gradual approach to building and maintaining county roads based on rising property values over several years to boost revenue. In the interim, he'd spend reserve money from highway accounts on high-priority projects.

To increase economic development, Moore would streamline permitting and create a 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."

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