When Ray Lossing beat incumbent County Commissioner Tony Mosca Jr. in a runoff election this month, he emerged with more than 70 percent of the Republican vote. It was the most lopsided political victory in recent local memory.
While it is certain that some of the people who voted for Lossing were actually voting against Mosca, we hope many others did so because they saw Lossing as a qualified candidate who wants to bring a fresh approach to county government.
Because of that potential, and because of his opponent's unremarkable platform, Lossing has earned the Times' recommendation in the County Commission District 4 race.
Lossing's outlook on governing the county is rooted in his background as a retired military officer. He believes in an orderly chain of command that respects the distinction between setting policy and enforcing policy. On the County Commission, Lossing's philosophy would prohibit him from becoming involved in the day-to-day management of county business. Unlike Mosca and some other members of the County Commission, Lossing understands that is a job best left to the county administrator.
But that fundamental difference in doctrine is not Lossing's only progressive idea. He also brings a refreshing perspective on government spending. Lossing believes it is irresponsible for the County Commission to approve bond issues to pay for purchases they can't afford at present. He says that practice is deceitful and saddles residents with a more expensive long-term debt. Lossing, a Republican, believes it also is just another way of avoiding unpopular budget cuts or increasing property taxes, which he opposes.
Lossing's opponent is Democrat Luther Cason, a Brooksville City Council member who, in 1990, became the first black person in Hernando County to hold elected office. Cason is a man of integrity and humility who has a largely mundane record as a small-town council member. In this bid for County Commission, Cason has failed to demonstrate he has the sagacity to be an independent county commissioner.
One of the planks in his campaign platform is particularly flawed. In order to prevent raising the county property tax, Cason proposes charging user fees for libraries, parks and other recreational facilities. Such regressive tariffs would unduly burden those who can least afford them, who are the working poor and senior citizens living on fixed incomes.
Cason, a Florida native, is a successful small-businessman who has been a role model for young African-Americans in the county. He should be held in high regard for those accomplishments. But his potential to be an effective county commissioner with the ability to build consensus among his colleagues is limited.
On the other hand, Lossing promises to be an accessible, discerning commissioner who will try to infect his colleagues with his hands-off technique and his belief that all taxpayers should be treated with the same respect, regardless of their connection to government officials or standing in the business community.
On a commission that desperately needs more of that kind of thinking, Lossing should be a stimulating addition.
Opportunity to reply
Luther Cason is invited to respond to this editorial recommendation. The reply must be received no later than 5 p.m. Monday and is limited to 250 words. Deliver to Jeff Webb, Editor of Editorials, Hernando Times, 161 E Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601. Or fax to 754-6133.