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Ex-Gulfport official to seek Citrus seat

A former member of the Gulfport City Council who now lives in Homosassa Springs announced Tuesday that he is a candidate for the County Commission. Gary Bartell, 44, is the third candidate to enter the race for the seat now held by Skip Hudson, who has opened a campaign account to run for the state Senate seat held by Karen Thurman, D-Dunnellon.

"I think on the whole they've done a good job," Bartell said of the commissioners. "But I think they need to handle problems when they are problems and not let them get to a crisis situation."

He said three problems had grown into crises: jail overcrowding, the negotiations with the state over the comprehensive plan, and the mandatory garbage ordinance.

"Careful planning and management" would have prevented the court order to ease jail overcrowding, he said.

Bartell, a Republican, said he would push to protect the environment and agrees with Commissioner Hank Cohen on growth management.

"I feel very strongly we need to adhere to some of the requirements of the state," he said. "I think we can still protect the rights of the landowners and not let development go rampant."

Describing himself as "semi-retired," Bartell said he in the process of moving his business, the House of Classic Thunderbirds, from St. Petersburg to Citrus County.

Bartell served on the Gulfport City Council from 1986 to 1988, when he resigned to move to Citrus County. He also served on the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. He has been in business for himself since 1970.

He lives in Homosassa Springs with his wife and three of their four children.