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CANDIDATE REPLY

The St. Petersburg Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply in print. Here is another of those replies.- Chris Hart, Republican candidate for Hillsborough County Commission

The basic goals of Chris Hart's campaign for the County Commission, District 7 at-large seat, are to provide responsible, accountable leadership and restore trust and confidence in county government.

When I am elected I will focus on three areas: 1) ensuring that government provides those basic services we all must have, such as police and fire protection, sewage treatment, garbage collection and good roads, 2) encouraging planned, quality growth that is compatible with our fragile environment and 3) promoting economic opportunities for new and existing businesses. I have met with many people throughout Hillsborough County who overwhelmingly have supported these goals.

In the last 10 years we have experienced the shock of dramatically increased property taxes. Many people I have talked with have seen increases of 300 to 500 percent, but what have we got to show for it? Unemployment is getting worse, our traffic is still congested, crime continues to rise and our streets still flood every time it rains. The policy of throwing millions of good dollars after bad has not worked, and it's time we tried a different approach. My 25-year career in financial management and long-range planning qualifies me to serve more effectively than my opponent in arriving at practical, affordable solutions to these and other major concerns.

Voters and taxpayers have told me they are fed up with the "insider politicians" who have set their own agendas. These "insiders" have planned, designed and built congestion and urban sprawl. They have used public offices for personal profit totaling in the millions of dollars. They have handed the bill to us in the form of increased property taxes and expected us to pay up without so much as a whimper.

Joe Chillura's 12 years on the Planning Commission span a period when our county experienced its worst uncontrolled growth. Meanwhile, he profited from it. He points to his tenure as being an advantage in asking the right questions. But when one strip center after another caused even more congestion, what questions did he ask? We no longer can afford this kind of politician in government.

It's time for a fresh start. Your vote for Chris Hart on Nov. 6 will be a vote for proven leadership you can trust, with the experience and skills to bring government you can respect.

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