It is easier to run against something than to run for it. Against taxes. Against waste. Against incumbents who infuriate the development and real estate communities.
The challenge ahead for Hernando Commissioners-elect John Druzbick and James Adkins is to demonstrate a commitment to an improved quality of life for residents and to govern with principles extending beyond pinching pennies and rolling over every time someone files a new development plan.
Much of their stated platform calling for increased government efficiency already is under way. County Administrator David Hamilton — hired on a 3-2 vote supported by the just-displaced incumbents Diane Rowden and Chris Kingsley — is developing a two-year reorganization plan to trim the county payroll by 235 jobs. It's an ambitious project that is being greeted with resistance in some quarters. Druzbick and Adkins might want to help with the sales job.
Some of the other ideas offered during the campaign are problematic. Druzbick, for instance, wants to lower impact fees, wrongly suggesting that will stimulate new-home construction. No, such a maneuver — already turned down by the board on a 4-1 vote — simply puts more of the burden of the cost of growth on existing residents. He also is critical of current funding for THE Bus mass-transit system and believes the private sector should be part of the equation of getting people around Hernando County. It's a naive approach to transportation planning and fails to acknowledge that public transit is not expected to be a moneymaker or even a break-even proposition.
Adkins, to his credit, recognizes the value of THE Bus and said it should be expanded into residential neighborhoods in an attempt to boost ridership. We trust that pledge won't be forgotten amid the less-government, more-freedom mantra.
Both of the commissioners-elect are familiar with the benefits of public spending. Druzbick was a 12-year member of the Hernando School Board; Adkins was a career firefighter who retired 10 years ago as chief of the Brooksville Fire Department.
Building and running schools and managing fire departments are not done cheaply. The county will be better served if they maintain their institutional knowledge and share that historical perspective as Hernando County commissioners.