NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco’s exploding growth has been the focus of the three Republican candidates running for the District 2 seat on the County Commission.
Mike Moore, who has held the seat representing south-central Pasco for eight years, decided not to seek a third term, opening the opportunity for a new commissioner. The three who stepped forward are Troy Stevenson, who owns and operates an LED sign advertising truck fleet; Seth Weightman; who works for Republic Services, a waste-hauling company; and Christie Zimmer, a real estate broker.
Only Republicans can vote in the Aug. 23 primary since a write-in candidate with little public profile, Louie Rodriguez, stepped in near the end of the qualifying period. A slot for voters of all parties to write in his name will appear on the November ballot along with the winner among Republicans, making it likely that only Republicans will choose the next commissioner for District 2.
Stevenson cited illness as keeping him from appearing in some recent speaking events or responding to questions posed by the Tampa Bay Times, but his campaign website gives a glimpse into his platform.
It states the issues that are important to him include promoting responsible and sustainable growth, investing in multimodal transportation and infrastructure, supporting first responders and fostering community engagement. He speaks about his conservative approach and how he values God, country and family.
He also touts raising money to assist families and to help the Pasco Sheriff’s Office acquire new police dogs.
Stevenson’s campaign has the biggest campaign account in the District 2 race, but it includes $100,000 of his own money. A 20-year resident of Pasco County, he has served for 16 years as a first responder with National Disaster Medical Services and has been involved with numerous community organizations, including serving as director with the Wesley Chapel Rotary and the North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Weightman is a fifth-generation county resident, and his uncle served as Pasco school superintendent. The day after Moore announced his departure from the commission, he endorsed Weightman for the job. So have a number of other top Republican officials in the area, including Senate President Wilton Simpson, State Sen. Danny Burgess, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Property Appraiser Mike Wells.
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His community service has included a gubernatorial appointment to the governing board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and appointments to the foundation boards of the Pasco-Hernando State College and AdventHealth. He was also an aide to former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and to former Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham.
At a recent forum sponsored by the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Weightman spoke enthusiastically about the county’s continued development, what a good place it was to raise a family and how his viewpoint of having seen the county’s past gave him hope for its future.
“Pasco is on the forefront of tremendous growth,” he said.
Zimmer took a different tack at the forum, based partially on her own experiences as a 20-year member of the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a body of local officials that guides transportation priorities. She said she has seen too many studies ignored and development of a road system that isn’t serving the community. She said it was time for a change in the commission makeup.
Lagging public safety needs also need to be addressed, she said, but one area of promise for the county is redevelopment in the aging U.S. 19 commercial corridor. Zimmer is concerned about the state making the right decisions for the intersection of State Road 54 and U.S. 41 and any further expansion of Ridge Road across the Cypress Creek wellfield.
Zimmer also expressed reservations to the upcoming renewal of the Penny for Pasco sales tax. While she said she has seen it help the county and the schools, she is not fond of lengthening the next renewal to 15 years and has reservations about individual projects. She also said she wanted existing Pasco residents’ concerns to be heard by the commission, suggesting night and town hall meetings.