The 2012 election campaign just got busier. Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek's announcement Monday that he won't seek a fifth term means Hernando County voters will see new names on their ballots for at least three constitutional officers next year. Combine that with the three commission seats up for election and the still-to-be-redrawn legislative and Congressional districts, and voters could be tasked with charting new leadership for a nearly all of the Hernando-based public offices.
Mazourek's decision follows a similar announcement from Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Nicolai. Sheriff Al Nienhuis also has never faced voters before, having been appointed last year by the governor to complete the term of Richard Nugent who was elected to Congress.
Mazourek's announced retirement creates a highly visible leadership void in Hernando County. While the constitutional officers traditionally generate their most notoriety during annual budget negotiations with commissioners, Mazourek used his office as a bully pulpit to advance imperative public issues.
Two years ago, when Commissioner Jim Adkins pushed for a property tax reduction without suggesting a corresponding budget cut, it was Mazourek who provided the common sense perspective. The property tax rate, Mazourek told the commission, already was at a 23-year low. Commissioners agreed and declined to endorse Adkins' idea.
More recently, Mazourek appealed to state legislators to address the growing number of sinkhole insurance claims that have taken $283 million off the county property tax rolls.
"This is a tremendous revenue shortage for Hernando County,'' Mazourek said.
It was a revealing moment. Here was Mazourek lobbying for state intervention on an issue that makes it harder for commissioners to balance their annual budget. But, he was alone in his appeal. Nobody else from Hernando County government bothered to attend that October delegation meeting.
Mazourek has served Hernando well and other elected officials would do well to emulate his leadership.