Commissioner Wayne Dukes, who has served on the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) District 2 is retiring after 12 years (three terms). Dukes was first elected on November 16, 2010, and his final board meeting was on Nov. 8, 2022.
A native of Brooksville, Wayne Dukes is a retired Federal Civil Servant with a successful 32-year career with the U.S. Air Force in Civil Engineering and Fire Service.
Chairman Steve Champion shared memories of his family and Dukes’ family “going way back” in the time of Champion’s great-grandfather. “(Dukes) has been a good friend to me, he was the first one to endorse me back in 2015… Hernando County owes you a debt. You’ve done a great job for us for the last 12 years. I challenge anyone to challenge your votes.”
“It’s been an amazing tenure, Mr. Dukes,” Realtor Gary Schraut said. “If I told you about all the things that he’s touched, and made happen for Hernando County and its residents, we’d be here all day.”
“We have so many wonderful things that are happening at the airport today, and it started with a fire station, the National Guard, and an air traffic control tower… It was he and I that first flew out of that airport under that air traffic control tower.”
County Administrator Jeff Rogers commended Dukes on his formation of the waterways program and navigating projects. “I know Mr. Dukes’ leadership was the reason why Hernando County had a lot of (state funding) that was spent here. We’re indebted to you, sir. Thank you very much for your leadership and service to Hernando County. We’ll be better for it.”
Commissioner John Allocco will always remember Dukes’ stories. The stories – short histories of a particular item in front of the board – usually begin with, “I’ve got a story about that …”
Dukes shared stories of his favorite memories on the BOCC. Among those are the hiring of Chris Linsbeck to lead Code Enforcement, and his meeting with a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) committee member that led to the agency loosening its grip on a dredging project.
In the early years, he prompted the county engineer to begin paving limerock roads. When Dukes was told he was making a $50,000,000 request, he said, “Do one a year. Do something.”
Dukes served on a consortium of 23 leaders in the state to handle RESTORE act funds. The RESTORE Act (Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act) resulted from the outcome of the civil suit of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that happened in 2010.
He was instrumental in the lifting of impact fees in Hernando County. When the housing market plummeted, Dukes made the motion during a board discussion, which passed, to set the impact fees to zero. “All the buildings that sprang up on 50, west of Mariner were during that time.”
Dukes said of his 32 years with the United States Air Force, and 12 on the BOCC, “I’ve had fun the whole time.”