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Pasco candidates reply to editorials

Editor's note: The Times offers candidates not recommended by the editorial board an opportunity to reply.

Gerald Ferenchik

County Judge, Group 4

My response to the editorial published recently isn't to criticize the Times nor my incumbent opponent. I want to educate Pasco voters. Voters should be aware that I have received recommendations for the county court judgeship from two former assistant state attorneys. The two attorneys at the top of my endorsement list on my website,, were my opponents in Pasco criminal court, and at trial. They know of my skills, abilities and demeanor, and also know those of the incumbent judge. I am their choice for Pasco County Court judge. Their recommendation comes from actually being in the courthouse.

Although Judge Roberts' credentials prior to being appointed are notable, I feel that it is very important for a criminal law judge to have at least some criminal law experience as a practicing attorney. Before my opponent was appointed to the bench, the incumbent never had a criminal law trial and never prosecuted or defended a criminal case as an attorney. Lack of actual criminal law experience as an attorney is an element that voters should consider. With my experience, I am in the trenches working criminal law cases from the beginning to trial verdict, and working with clients, victims and their families. Voters can have confidence in my abilities. I will be tough on crime, uphold the law and be impartial. I will serve the community well.

Anthony Terranova

School Board, District 3

It is important to remember the recommendation of the editor is just an opinion based on a 60-minute conversation. While I appreciate the positive comments written by the editor, I believe that I should have been the recommended candidate. I would like to comment on the two points that prevented me from receiving the recommendation: lack of business experience and community ties.

A business owner is usually very knowledgeable about his/her business, but it in no way prepares them to introduce policy that educators must follow. I am a front-line educator who will introduce timely, targeted and effective classroom ready policies based on my experiences and those of fellow school personnel.

In regards to my lack of community ties, I was raised to think that being a public school teacher is one of the greatest things you can do for your community. I implore everyone to visit my website,, and the websites of my competitors and read what each of us plans to do as the next School Board member. I am very confident that you will determine I am the most prepared candidate for this position based on my platforms.

Cynthia Armstrong

School Board, District 3

The Times, in looking for leadership skills, wanted candidates who would support the 0.25 mill tax hike prior to voter approval and in possibly the worst economic conditions our citizens have ever faced.

The true mark of leadership, as in any business, would be to make sustainable long-term cuts that could help this year and beyond when even more revenue is expected to evaporate. I did not support the increase because there were still alternatives available to cut expenses.

I did agree that the 0.25 mill should be put on the ballot. I do, however, feel that imposing such an increase on the taxpayers, prior to the vote, was neither prudent nor right.

I have been in west Pasco County for more than 30 years, taught in Pasco County Schools, at PHCC, at St. Pete College and this gives me a firm understanding of what our teachers go through daily. I have a bachelor's degree from Wake Forest University and a master's in education from USF. I have worked as a business owner for 20 years, was one of the first women in Pasco County to be invited to join Rotary and was a founding board member of Leadership Pasco.

I pledge to work diligently with legislators to bring a long-term fix to funding our schools. Today, we rely too heavily on a broken property tax system that is proven too unreliable.

Sallie Skipper

School Board, District 3

I would like to respond to your comments about innovative ideas and budget-cutting suggestions.

Within several candidate forums, I have suggested taking further advantage of volunteer retirees, who contribute generously, but may not be utilized to their fullest potential. I emphasized the importance of preparing our students for global competition and suggested creating a separate committee to represent students who are home-schooled.

To engage parents for whom traditional PTA meetings are not an option, I suggested either social networking sites or electronic bulletin boards where ideas can be exchanged and surplus goods and services contributed.

For several months, I have attended School Board meetings and workshops. One workshop on budget cuts was particularly effective. A huge wall was covered with blue pockets. White numbers representing budget cuts were offered to the School Board members, who were asked to place the number in a pocket to balance the budget.

Each pocket contained a painful sacrifice to a Pasco student and/or district employee. I am not willing to commit to anything at all until taking a closer look at alternatives. Any analysis of budget cuts to athletics, arts, or music programs, must consider the intrinsic costs to our children's future. Until I am better informed and all alternatives have been thoroughly investigated, I cannot commit.

My experiences and dedication to this community enable me to give the position the attention that our children deserve.

George D. Brazier

School Board, District 5

I have been a teacher in Pasco County since 1996, have teaching experience at every level (elementary, middle and high school), and am currently teaching at Gulf High School in New Port Richey. I have more classroom teaching experience than either of my opponents and have taught the core academic subject areas of math, language arts, science and social studies. I am also a member of my school's Response To Intervention (RTI) team. My wife also works for the Pasco County School District and is currently the district supervisor for elementary and middle school guidance. All four of our children attend Pasco County public schools.

As a parent and current educator, I feel it is critical that our families, community and School Board employees have a representative on the board who will give them a true voice in making decisions that will impact everybody. We also need a School Board member who has the educational experience and expertise that comes from working with students in the classroom every day, and who can provide the unique, current perspective of how the policies that the board sets affect our classrooms.

I believe that by openly communicating and working together we can help our school district become one of the top districts in the state of Florida, and I believe that my training, experience and expertise makes me the best candidate.

Mark Swartsel

School Board, District 5

As a lifelong resident and businessman, and graduate of the University of Florida (business administration), I have successfully operated multiple corporations as president and managing member while staying involved in the community as the president of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the West Pasco Board of Realtors, and as a "life director" of the Pasco Builders Association. Governmental appointments have come from the County Commission including the Planning and Zoning Commission, where my fellow members elected me chairman, and the Citizen's Advisory Committee that formulated our county's first Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and from the president of the Florida Senate (Community Health Purchasing Alliance for the Tampa Bay Region). Two different organizations have given me their citizen of the year award.

My opponents are both fine people and care about the school system, but neither have business experience. Steve was a 32-year school employee, the last 24 as a vice principal, and George is a teacher.

I have been studying educational issues by following information dispersed through the school system's website, articles, agendas and minutes of board meetings, and everything else that I could get my hands on for months, including breaking down last year's budget for each school in the county, the overall district budget, and this year's proposed budget, because I care about our children's education.

The district faces unprecedented budget issues that relate to every facet of the school system. It is imperative that we have business-minded civic leaders to serve our district for the sake of all of our children.

Pasco candidates reply to editorials 08/12/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 12, 2010 9:31pm]
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