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  1. Opinion

Kemerer for Brooksville City Council

The Brooksville City Council Seat 4 has drawn three candidates for the race to succeed Kevin Hohn who is leaving office after three years. The successful candidate will join a council dealing with the negative perception of red-light cameras, a city budget stressed from years of falling property values, and a need to modernize the city's infrastructure.

Two of the candidates, Betty Erhard and Bill Kemerer, will bring positive attributes to the job, but Kemerer is the better choice.

Erhard, 50, is making her second run for council. A 25-year resident of the city, she graduated from Hernando High School and has raised three daughters. She is energetic and hard-working and the centerpiece of her campaign is the fate of the city's controversial red-light cameras. Erhard is one of the people who collected petition signatures calling for a referendum on the cameras and for her trouble, the city named her as a defendant in its lawsuit seeking to toss the ballot language as too vague. She believes the cameras should come down and that the beneficiaries will be the city's small business owners who contend the publicity surrounding the cameras and the system's propensity to fine motorists $158 for right-on-red turns is a detriment to commerce.

Unfortunately, her passion to help local businesses is undermined by her ambivalence toward a proposed sales tax increase that would allow the city to rebuild Main Street and that she identifies fluoridated water as an example of wasteful government spending.

Kemerer, 64, a retired accountant and former vice president of finance for a hotel development and management company, will bring community governing experience and astute fiscal oversight to the council. Kemerer, a former district supervisor for the community development district in Westchase in Hillsborough County, retired to Brooksville three years ago. He, too, is no fan of the red-light cameras and believes council was wrong not to schedule a referendum. However, he offers multiple qualifiers to his position. The cameras, he said, still should be used to enforce straight on red-light runners and the city should amend its ordinance to allow right-hand turns of up to 15 mph at red-light intersections, effectively ending tickets to motorists who fail to come to a complete stop before turning. That's a lot of "what ifs.''

The third candidate is Vi Coogler, 62, a descendant of one of the city's founding families. He is a volunteer equipment manager for a middle school football team. His platform is simple: improve parks and remove the red-light cameras.

Kemerer is the strongest candidate. In the Nov. 4 election for the Brooksville City Council seat 4, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Bill Kemerer.

Opportunity to reply

Candidates not recommended by the Tampa Bay Times are given the opportunity to respond. Responses are limited to 150 words and should be sent by noon Tuesday to C.T. Bowen, Pasco/Hernando editor of editorials, via email to ctbowen@tampabay.com or by fax to (727) 869-6233.

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