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Commission candidates air their views // DISTRICT 3

Nearing the end of her first term as county commissioner, Republican Vicki Phillips faces Democrat Dave Stanton and independent Leo Hadley in the race for her District 3 seat.

Stanton, a retired Department of Defense employee, emphasizes his experience monitoring contracts and working with budgets.

Hadley, also a retired federal employee who last worked for the Treasury Department, says the current board regularly ignores the will of the people on issues such as jail and ambulance privatization, the landfill and the rezoning of Nature's Amphitheater at Fox Run.

Hadley favors creating citizen advisory committees and holding referendums on major issues that come before the board as a way to gauge public opinion. Hadley is a staunch opponent of the proposed Suncoast Parkway extension through Citrus, but says he would support it if ballot results were to show a majority in favor of it.

Stanton also supports a non-binding referendum on the issue.

Phillips disagrees, saying voters chose her to represent them and make decisions.

Phillips says she has stayed true to her campaign pledges of four years ago, conserving tax dollars while making herself accessible to constituents.

In preparation for meetings, Phillips says she spends a great deal of time researching issues and forming opinions, taking the views of people she has spoken with into account.

While neither Stanton nor Hadley levels personal criticism of Phillips, both say the current board, with Phillips' support, has made flawed decisions on issues such as privatizing the jail and ambulance service.

They also criticize the board for continuing to expand the landfill.

Stanton says commissioners should consider turning to more environmentally-friendly methods such as recycling and composting, perhaps allowing a private company to run the facility.

Hadley agrees. "We've got to stop putting our garbage into a hole," he said during a recent interview.

Phillips argues that for cost reasons, continuing to use the landfill is the most economical solution. "It's the only choice that we have at present," she said recently.

In the business arena, Stanton says commissioners have to be more aggressive to bring new companies into the area. He supports doing away with commercial impact fees, which help fund schools, parks and infrastructure.

Both Phillips and Hadley say they have yet to form final opinions on whether impact fees should be changed.

If elected, Hadley says he would open an office in District 3 and would decline the county's retirement and health benefits.

Stanton also says he would decline the benefits and donate at least 10 percent of his salary to nonprofit groups such as the Boys & Girls Club of Citrus County and Blind Americans.

In a recent letter to the Citrus Times, Stanton wrote: "This is a strong, positive commitment. Now where is the incumbent on this issue? I challenge her to do the same."

Phillips says she has no such plan.

"I already give," she said. "I also choose to do that privately. I don't plan to advertise my charitable giving."

Phillips has lived in Citrus since 1982.

For Stanton, who moved to the county in 1993, this is his first run for public office.

Hadley, who retired to Citrus in 1992, previously ran on the GOP ticket for school board in 1994. He lost in a primary election to B.J. Collins, who was later defeated by now-outgoing board member Janet Herndon.

County Commission, District 3

Where the candidates stand

Issue: Proposed Suncoast Parkway extension through Citrus County

VICKI PHILLIPS (R)

Supports contruction of the road if it is built to Citrus' southern border.

LEO HADLEY (I)

Opposes the parkway, but says he would support it if a majority of county voters supported it in a referendum.

DAVE STANTON (D)

Opposes the road. He says it would bring too much traffic and harm the county's environment.

Issue: The county's jail and ambulance services, which were privatized last year.

VICKI PHILLIPS (R)

Thinks Florida Regional and CCA have saved county money while providing better service. Says Florida Regional's contract should be amended to simplify recording of response times. When the contracts come up for renewal, she favors allowing businesses to bid. Jail, she also supports allowing the Sheriff's Office to place a bid for jail services.

LEO HADLEY (I)

Thinks the county's contracts are too permissive, allowing the companies to deliver poor performance without penalty. Suggests terminating the contracts immediately and bringing the services back under the county while commissioners draft more stringent guidelines. Favors allowing the county to bid against private contractors to run the services.

DAVE STANTON (D)

Is concerned the companies may not be performing as well as they should. Says he has heard Florida Regional customers complain repeatedly of high bills and inordinately long response times. Favors amending the county's contracts to create advisory groups that would monitor performance. If the services don't improve, Stanton says the county should step in and run them again.

Issue: How to improve the county's water

VICKI PHILLIPS (R)

Favors expanding central water and sewer systems by placing a 1 percent sales tax on a countywide referendum.

LEO HADLEY (I)

Supports more stringent inspection of private septic systems and wastewater plants. Says the county should not be in the business of running more sewer plants.

DAVE STANTON (D)

Says the county should seek federal and state assistance to fund central water and sewer systems. Says commissioners should also hold a forum with city officials from Crystal River and Inverness to reach interlocal agreements.

Source: The candidates

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.

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