William Kingeter County Commission, District 2
Hernando County government faces a shrinking tax roll, high unemployment, an economy too reliant on home building and its ancillary services, a transit system that could be on its final year of operations, new fees, a reduced workforce and a propensity to balance the county budget with its reserve accounts.
Against the backdrop of those financial challenges, three candidates are vying for the Republican nomination in the Aug. 24 primary for the right to challenge Democratic incumbent Rose Rocco for the District 2 commission seat. In this countywide race, the candidates are Ty Mullis, a former project manager for a civil engineering firm; retired New Jersey firefighter William Kingeter and retired federal civil servant Wayne Dukes who is making his third run for the commission.
Though all three spout traditional GOP talking points on spending and taxation, only Kingeter offers a broader view on managing growth and solid waste. The proposed Quarry Preserve project in the county's northern tier, he notes, could saturate an already flooded housing market with still more inventory. Likewise, he said, mandatory recycling should begin in order to conserve space in the county landfill. The Times recommends Kingeter's more moderate approach to governing.
Mullis, 40, is a knowledgeable, pro-development candidate who touts his private-sector experience over his opponents' government-heavy resumes. Mullis advocates a voter referendum on creating charter government simply to reduce the salaries of elected officials. Nobody has yet demonstrated overwhelming public support for such an exercise and Mullis overstated the cost savings. He said he will pursue the idea via a petition drive even if he's not elected. That might be the best alternative rather than bogging down a shrinking staff with still more research work.
He also proposes a worrisome idea to assign each commissioner to a new business in order to facilitate answers for the private companies involved in the government review process. It's a potentially dangerous plan that invites abuse from elected officials who could be tempted to interfere rather than observe the work flow.
Dukes, 65, suggests privatizing services, wants to park THE Bus, advocates a separate taxing unit for law enforcement, and wrongly states county impact fees put Hernando at a competitive disadvantage with its neighbors even though single-family home fees in Pasco are four times the charges levied in Hernando. There appears to be little he hasn't seen that he wouldn't cut, but his ideas lack innovation.
Kingeter, 72, moved to Spring Hill 10 years ago after a government career that included deputy fire chief in Newark, and stints as a fire marshal, code enforcement director and construction official in other local governments in New Jersey. It's a background that provides him insight into multiple government departments that will be useful as the county again reorganizes duties to match a smaller workforce with necessary duties.
In the Republican primary for the District 2 Hernando County Commission seat, the Times recommends William Kingeter.
Opportunity to respond
The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply. Judicial candidates should send their replies no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday to C.T. Bowen, Pasco/Hernando editor of editorials, St. Petersburg Times, 11321 U.S. 19 Port Richey, FL 34668; by fax (727) 869-6233; or via e-mail to email@example.com. Replies are limited to 250 words.