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Candidate joins Brooksville City Council race

Allen Rhodes, a 65-year-old veteran and security guard, has joined the field of challengers vying for two seats on the Brooksville City Council.

To date, he and 33-year-old businessman Robert Osmond have announced their candidacy for the seat now occupied by Joe Bernardini.

The 32-year U.S. Navy serviceman wants to focus his campaign on building a city government that does more with less money.

"The city is not unlike the operation of the county in terms of its liberal tax and spend policies," the married father of four said Thursday. "I want to change that."

His remarks come at a time when Brooksville is experiencing sizable growth due to development in recently annexed areas south of town and when many residents are complaining that the City Council is raising taxes and fees while it is cutting services. In a statement released this week, Rhodes laid out his platform, which calls for the streamlining of services provided to city residents and a reduction of the tax burden.

"The fact remains that Brooksville has a tax rate three times higher than any city in Florida of a comparable size," said Rhodes, who has lived on Stafford Street for about two years. "I want to make a more efficient city government and expand safety and security to handle future expansion of the city. It just may be a shifting of priorities."

Both Rhodes and Osmond, who filed earlier, agree that prioritizing the city's spending is one of the major issues Brooksville faces and could be a hot-button issue in the months leading up to the 2004 election.

"The fact is people need to be protected and they need to be secure," said Rhodes.

In November, Pat Brayton, 58, who previously served on the City Council for six years, filed to run for the seat being vacated by former Mayor Richard Lewis. Both Lewis and Brayton were elected to the council in 1994 as part of a recall movement that brought four new council members to office. But in 2000 Brayton lost to Bernardini in a three-way race. Term limits prevent Lewis from seeking a third consecutive four-year term.

Lewis, who had expressed his interest in running against County Commission Chairwoman Betty Whitehouse, told the Times last week that he no longer plans to run. Rather Lewis said he wants to concentrate his energies on his family and health. The 57-year-old retired postal worker was diagnosed with colon cancer last year.

_ Duane Bourne can be reached at (352) 754-6114. Send e-mail to dbournesptimes.com.

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