Jeff Stabins has gone from lame duck to eager beaver. In mid-April, Stabins, dispirited by the growing conservative bent of the Hernando Commission and his own inability to forge a three-person majority on multiple spending and personnel issues, said he would not seek re-election to a third term in 2012. Then, last month, he announced plans to leave his position six months early in order to campaign for a congressional seat in his native upstate New York where he had purchased a house.
He is now back to Plan A, campaigning for re-election to the commission, accompanied by a take-no-prisoners attitude toward the Hernando Republican Party hierarchy and Commission Chairman Jim Adkins. Stabins would do well to focus his energy exclusively on his commission duties and on his own political future and let the electorate judge Adkins, whose term also expires in 2012.
Stabins is now on his third stated career track in the past five months, and he will need to work hard to dissuade voters from considering the commissioner's own April 14 statement in which he said, "It is clearly time for new people with new ideas to come forward and run for the seat in District 1.''
Stabins should remain true to other portions of that prepared statement in which he proclaimed, "I will continue to try to improve my performance.'' That is key. His moderate voting record is a much-needed counterbalance to the narrow fiscal agenda of Commissioners Wayne Dukes and Adkins, but Stabins' oddball behavior distracts from his job performance.
Likewise, Stabins will be more effective if he drops the personal vendettas. Certainly, Adkins overstepped his authority earlier this year in calling for a state Ethics Commission investigation of his fellow commissioner. But Stabins' public promise to recruit a political challenger to the chairman in 2012 reflects his own petulance and incapacity for consensus-building.
Two weeks ago, we urged Stabins to resign his seat at the end of September. That would have allowed him to finish shaping the coming fiscal year budget and then cleared the way for him to campaign full time for Congress. If we are now to believe Stabins' stated intentions — and certainly they have changed rapidly over the past half year — then he needs to act as if he wants to stay for the long haul and concentrate his attention on the matters of importance to his Hernando County constituency.