From County Commission to Soil and Water Conservation District — we make recommendations for them all (and yes there is such a thing as Soil and Water Conservation District!)
By Chris Ingram
Like most voters in Florida, Hillsborough County voters (home to Irreverent View) has a number of local Primary elections on the ballot on August 24th. While Election Day is August 24th, voters can request an absentee ballot and avoid lines and last minute excuses and vote from the comfort of home. Early voting at select polling locations begins August 9th and runs through August 21st.
With ballots already in the mail, it’s time for a quick assessment of the candidates. You can call these recommendations if you will, as “endorsement” seems a bit haughty.
In County Commission District 1, it is no surprise among those who know me that I am supporting Trey Rustmann. Rustmann and I have been friends for some time, and when he decided to run for the seat asked me to help him which I gladly obliged. Now that “full-disclosure” is out of the way, let me tell you why I like Trey. First and foremost, he is a man of intergrity. He’s also intelligent and extremely interested in studying the issues before taking a position. A former Marine Corps officer who served in combat in Iraq and Bosnia, Rustmann has the leadership skills One County Center is severely lacking. Finally, Rustmann is not a career politician looking for his next job on the public’s dime. In short, he’s part of the solution, not part of the problem. Rustmann was recently endorsed by the Tampa Tribune which said, “…[Rustmann] would bring leadership and analytical skills that would benefit the county” and, “Rustmann would bring a much-needed fresh perspective and can-do attitude to the county.” He has also been endorsed by La Gaceta, Tampa’s newspaper of the hispanic community.
In the District 2 race (currently held by Ken Hagan who is not running for reelection, but seeking a countywide seat), I recommend Linda Pearson. Pearson will bring years of business and environmental/land use planning to the board. She also has served on several boards and government commissions and knows how the system works. With Rose Ferlita not seeking reelection, the board could be an “all male” board come January. Pearson’s election would obviously change that. And while one’s gender shouldn’t matter, it does, and the BOCC needs some female influences. Finally, Linda Pearson is not a career politician or government bureaucrat. Her Republican Primary opponent is looking for his next political job because he is term-limited from serving any longer in the legislature. That alone is reason enough to vote for Linda Pearson.
In the District 3 race, disgraced commissioner Kevin White is seeking reelection – apparently not having any shame for his embarrassing antics in office. White faces two other Democrats in the Primary. There are no Republicans running, so the winner of the Democratic Primary will be the next commissioner from District 3. I like newcomer Valerie Goddard. I’ve met her and found her to be competent, concerned, and easy to talk to. Unlike her two opponents, she is not a career politician looking for their next job. District 3 residents would be well-served electing Valerie Goddard to the County Commission.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it should come as no surprise I am supporting Mark Sharpe for reelection to the countywide seat he currently holds. Sharpe is, well, “sharp.” He’s a thinker. He’s got an independent streak – meaning he’s not in anybody’s pocket. And he is a solid conservative with a record of fighting for taxpayers. Sharpe has been criticized for advocating the Hillsborough Transportation Improvement plan because it would be supported by a one cent sales tax. It is ridiculous to vilify a public servant as honorable as Mark Sharpe over disagreement on one issue – which ultimately boils down to giving the citizens the right to decide (the 1 cent tax issue is on November’s ballot as a referendum). For those “one issue” voters, ask yourself this: do you like sitting in traffic around Hillsborough or would you rather have an improved transportation system so you can get home quicker and spend more time with your family? If the latter, you certainly should join me in voting for Mark Sharpe.
In School Board District 2, Candy Olson deserves reelection though some fresh blood certainly is in order next time.
In School Board District 4, I like Kirk E. Faryniasz. Kirk has military and business experience and is a conservative.
And in School Board District 6, Terry Kemple is the only alternative if you, like me, are tired of the antics of the incumbent. Kemple is genuinely interested in improving our schools and will bring a real conservative’s voice to the mostly liberal board.
Note: These School Board races are important for multiple reason. Even if you don’t have kids in school, the board manages a budget of $3.5 Billion dollars – greater than that of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.
In State Senate District 12, two very imperfect candidates who are career politicians term limited from seeking reelection to their current offices are running. One is far worse than the other. As such, I recommend Kevin Ambler for State Senate District 12. (And the G.O.P. needs to start working on a farm team so we don’t end up with career politicians like these two bozos every year).
In the race for State House District 47, I know each of the candidates personally – with the exception of James Grant. That said, at the risk of making some of my friends in this race mad, I recommend James Grant. He is young, smart, has fresh ideas, gets along well with people, and is not a career politician.
In State House District 56 I recommend Rachel Burgin. I didn’t like the way Rachel initially got the job, but I’ve gotten over it, I like her, and I think she’s serving admirably.
In State House District 57, the St. Petersburg Times has called Todd Marks “the most conservative candidate in the race.” In addition to being conservative, Todd will be an independent voice not beholden to party bosses or special interest money if given the privilege to serve district residents. I strongly support Todd Marks in this race.
In State House District 60, I pinch my nose and recommend Shawn Harrison. His strongest opponent is Trey Stroud, but Stroud just hasn’t made enough noise to show why he should get the job. Harrison (who used to be my neighbor) is a decent guy, is smart, and competent. I only reluctantly support him because I don’t think he really knows what he wants – other than to be elected to something – and I am concerned he will be a pawn of the party establishment when I’d rather him go rattle some cages in Tallahassee.
And finally, in State House District 67, I like Greg Steube out of all the candidates. He’ll serve his district well. However, he needs to serve cautiously and not get too comfy with the party establishment crowd and the Tallahassee lobbyists.
In closing, I recommend my friend Kelso Tanner for what is probably the most useless/meaningless office on the ballot in Hillsborough County: Soil and Water Conservation District. The SWCD sounds important but as far as I can tell its #1 responsibility is judging an elementary school poster contest and letting people know that soil and water is important. Okay. But do we need to ELECT people for this? Seriously folks, I am not making this up. I researched it, and that’s about all it is responsible for. The good news is the elected members don’t get paid. But still, it seems like an unnecessary government board or agency, or whatever it is. So Kelso, if you win, will you please make a motion to dissolve it? Poor guy, he’s going to want to kill me… And please, if anyone out there can educate me as to why we ought to keep this board, call me.
These recommendations are made independent of any candidate or committee. The individual’s have not been contacted and these recommendations are without any authorization, financial consideration or consultation with any candidate.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of www.IrreverentView.com. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He currently serves as the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9 in Florida’s largest media market. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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