A pair of Republicans are vying to replace retiring, two-term Hernando County Commissioner David Russell and join a GOP majority that has gutted the county's reserves, slashed public services, kowtowed to special interests and pushed the cost of servicing growth onto existing taxpayers. Neither Laurie Pizzo nor Jeff Holcomb shows a likelihood of attempting to take the county in a different direction. Commission candidates are elected countywide, but must reside in their district. The winner of this District 4 GOP primary faces Democrat Daniel Oliver and no-party candidate David Werder in November.
Pizzo, 47, a real estate agent and longtime political insider, is the better choice because of her broad community service, including Habitat for Humanity and serving as past chairman of the Florida Attorney General Office's Commission on the Status of Women. Pizzo also is willing to at least acknowledge the county's shortcomings. She advocates for expanded technical/vocational training to build a better educated workforce, wants to invest in the county's infrastructure and road network, and bolster code enforcement. She also admits the county's park system is in need of maintenance help, but she would turn to volunteers for assistance.
Regrettably, the fiscal policies she prefers will not accomplish her stated goals. She advocates for smart growth but provides no way to pay for it. She dismisses impact fees — the one-time charge on new construction to ensure growth helps pay for the increased demand on roads, schools and other government facilities — as an unreliable revenue source. Likewise, she said she would reduce spending and hold the line on taxes as a way to recruit new business to the county. So it's not clear where she expects to find money for better services, particularly with the county's share of a pending penny sales tax referendum committed to just two items — transportation and economic development.
Pizzo is opposed by Holcomb, 43, a software consultant, whose platform offers even fewer specifics beyond the conservative platitudes of no tax hikes and making the county more business friendly. He too opposes impact fees.
In the Hernando County Commission District 4 Republican primary, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Laurie Pizzo.
Opportunity to reply
Candidates not recommended by the Tampa Bay Times are given the opportunity to respond. Responses are limited to 150 words and should be sent by noon Tuesday, Aug. 12 to C.T. Bowen, Pasco/Hernando Editor of Editorials, via email to email@example.com or by fax to (727) 869-6233.