Meet the Candidates: County Commissioner District 1

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Meet the Candidates: County Commissioner District 1

Mon, 07/20/2020 - 14:57
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District 1 County Commissioner 

This not a Universal Primary Contest, so the REP candidates will only appear on REP Primary ballots.  The winner of this election will run against the DEM candidate Isaiah Haddon in the General Election on Nov. 3.

ISAIAH HADDON (DEM Candidate)

Isaiah Haddon

 

BIO: I am a multi-racial Hernando County native. As a child, I played on the wooden playground in Tom Varn Park. I’ve spent summers kayaking on the Weeki Wachee river. I learned to love my neighbor at Christian Church in the Wildwood. I graduated from F.W. Springstead High School, class of 2018. I’ve always been fascinated by the history and rustic beauty of the Brooksville Courthouse. This is the only home I’ve ever known. 

Our community can reach new heights both socially and economically, but it will require leadership focused on long-term improvement rather than short-term gain. It is time for more diverse representation in Hernando County. This community belongs to all of us, and that is why I want to be your voice on the Board of County Commissioners.

What are your thoughts on local regulations in response to COVID-19 type events?
 
Our State as a whole has failed its citizens. Instead of acting proactively and in a non-partisan manner, we acted and voiced opinions on what other cities in other states were doing instead of focusing on Hernando and what Hernando uniquely needed. Our community needed guidance and leadership, and instead, we received emotional outbursts and negligence. Meanwhile, our families suffered. Egos should never outweigh empathy.

Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added.

Hernando needs to move our garbage services to a year by year contract with open bidding in order to ensure our grievances are heard and efficiency is prioritized. In regards to cable and the internet, we need to invite competition in order to stabilize the growing costs. Hernando needs a focused plan on developing buildings and businesses focused on social work (I.e. substance abuse clinics, therapy, mental health counselors within schools). Without investment in mental health, we will not be able to find ourselves in the position to enjoy a prosperous economy in the first place. 
 
Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

Our county budget must reflect the prioritization of mental health clinics and a significant prioritization on education. America is seeing record numbers of depression and anxiety especially among our youth, and especially among young teenagers. This crisis has made its way into our schools, actively decreasing academic involvement with our students. This curve needs to be reversed. The first step I would take is reducing the county commissioner salary by $20,000 and reallocating that money directly into our classrooms.

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

Transportation services can be mildly refined to decrease the budget while increasing the quality of service. Contracts for garbage services need to be reviewed regularly and adjusted yearly. Without decreasing quality, we need to invest our money in the prevention of crimes rather than imprisonment, tackling the problem at the source rather than the current position.
 
If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

The reinvestment of the money recovered by increasing efficiency will provide more for the reserve, which can be used to solve problems that rear their head.
 
Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?
(Example: Additional recreation, Airport development etc... )

Recreational development needs to be on the rise so that new families continue to make Hernando their home. Investing in new forms of business is also a must, my choice being social work and tech startups. 

 Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed. (Example: opiate epidemic, flooding, managing development, etc...) 
 
We need to tackle our affordable housing issue. Hernando county is the number one county in Florida for the highest amount of citizens that pay over 30% of their salaries in rent. With the average wage being around $15 and the average rent around $1220, our citizens are paying over 40% of their salaries on rent every year. This has stunted us immensely. Another huge problem that needs to be fixed is our overall low-trust in government officials and lack of transparency and accountability within our government. We need to work towards common goals and for the improvement of our county. 

What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

My love for our county, I was born and raised in Hernando. Frustration with our leaders and their complacent attitude drove me to run. I value my family, friends, and neighbors immensely, they deserve adequate representation. I want Hernando to have leaders who commit themselves to their constituents rather than their personal ideologies. 

 

BETH NARVERUD (REP Candidate)

Beth Narverud

BIO:
• Former Hernando County School Board member (2014-2018) 
• Oversaw $150 Million Dollar Budget 
• Built financial reserves improving school district's Bond Rating to an A+ 
• Improved School District Grade 
• Gubernatorial appointee to the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition Board of Directors 
•  Former Executive Director of the Hernando County Education Foundation 
•  Member of Hernando County Business and Professional Women 
•  Member of 100 Women Who Care 
•  Hernando County Resident and Small Business owner for over 30 years 
•  Beth and her husband Marty have been married for over 25 years. They have 3 children: Nicholas, Gabrielle and Zachary and live in Spring Hill.

What are your thoughts on local regulations in response to COVID-19 type events?

At this time, I believe we should follow the science and guidelines. I don’t believe masks should be mandated however, I would encourage their use as an added layer of protection for yourself and others specifically where proper distancing may not be possible. 
 
Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

I don't have three "specific" ordinances but I would modify and or repeal any ordinance that doesn't make sense or puts unnecessary burdens on small businesses and or families. 

Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

Probably the building department. Specifically, to streamline the permitting and inspection processes to create a more business-friendly environment. However, I would not agree to a fee increase. 
 
Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

As a fiscal conservative, I believe we always need to be looking for more government efficiency and streamlining of the budget. 

If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

As a business owner, you learn how to balance your budget including obligations by managing cost, waste, and increasing market share. Our county’s revenue will grow organically, through increased property values and new home sales. Sales tax revenue will also increase as we begin economic recovery. This organic growth in revenue should provide the funding to cover the organic growth of expenses.
 

Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?
(Example: Additional recreation, Airport development etc... )

The widening of County Line road to accommodate the continued growth impacting our county. County Line Rd serves as a direct connection from US 19 to SR41. The expansion will ease the flow of increased traffic due to community developments. Continuing to build airport infrastructure to provide the necessary features required to support additional types of aircraft and services. It will also improve efficiency and safety. Adding broadband to underserved communities with the new era of social distancing and at-home education e-learning is here to stay and all students need access to support their education.
 
Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed.

Small business support and recovery, Wastewater infrastructure. Economic diversification. 

What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

Hernando County's future matters to me. All of You matter to me. Hernando County is my home. I would like our county to remain an affordable place, to live, work and play. I want our seniors to feel safe, appreciated, and well represented. I believe our children deserve a great education. I would like to see more business and career opportunities, right here in Hernando County. I am committed to creating good-paying jobs to help this community prosper. Together, we can do this. 
 

JOE SWILLEY (REP Candidate)

Joe Swilley

BIO: I am a 5th generation Floridian. 
Married to my lovely wife Cathy for 21 years.
I am a true conservative who believes in the Constitution as it is written including the 2nd amendment, I believe in keeping taxes low & keeping government regulations to a minimum. I fully support our military & first responders.
• Hernando county (dist. 1) resident since June of 2000
• Proud Veteran of the United States Navy
• Former Project Manager for Mackay communications.
• Projects I managed were, TTY project, 3 ships for the U.S. Navy built in Morgan City La.; LCU project, 32 ships for the U.S. Army, built in Moss Point Ms.; AGOR 23 project, a scientific research ship for the University of Washington. Built in Moss Point Ms.; Fast Patrol craft project, specialty riverboats for U.S. special forces. Built in New Orleans La.
Currently manager of Craig W. Krueger A/C right here in Spring Hill
 

What are your thoughts on local regulations in response to COVID-19 type events?

I believe that Hernando County following the guidelines set by the Governor & President is sufficient to handle covid 19 in Hernando County.
 
Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

I believe that we need to look at ALL of the county codes & ordinances. If it is not mandated by the federal or state governments then it should not exist in Hernando County. Safety first but the local government should not be regulating above what the state & federal government requires.
 
Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

Increase funding? I think we could do a better job with the parks but the funding should be found in the existing budget.
 
Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

Without a closer (inside) look at our budget I can’t say where we could cut the budget. I have always found ways in the projects I managed to cut the budget but still get the job done on time & with good quality. I have also found ways in my current position to save money but still do a quality job for our customers.
 
If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

Salary & cost of living increases, as well as other inflationary costs to the county, should be taken care of with the additional tax revenue from increasing property values & economic expansion.
 
Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?

I believe airport development is vital to economic development as well as maintaining the necessary infrastructure to handle the growth of our county, which is going to happen.
 
Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed.

The top issue for Hernando County is economic development. As our county grows we will need more deputies, firemen, paramedics and will have the need to provide other services to the growing population. We cannot expect to be able to pay for all of that without expanding the economy. The current taxpayers already have enough tax burden on their shoulders.
 
What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

I was inspired to run for County Commissioner by seeing Commissioners elected on the promise of low taxes & smaller government & doing just the opposite. I have worked my way up from the bottom of the workforce to the top in 2 different industries, yet I always remember where I came from. I believe a working man will better represent the working people of Hernando County.
 

MARK JOHNSON (REP Candidate)

Mark Johnnson

 

BIO: My wife Arlene and I have lived in Timber Pines inside District 1 for the past fourteen years. I am a self-employed Private Investigator. I served on the School Board from 2014 to 2018 and as Chairman from 2017 to 2018. During my tenure the Board turned a $12 million deficit into a $14 million unrestricted reserve and provided raises to both instructional and non-instructional workers, offering competitive wages to all our staff. 

Recognizing the anticipated incredible growth in Hernando County and the need for local trade people to support that growth, my wife and I started a non-profit, community-based training center.  This community-based partnership provides training to unemployed, under-employed, and high school seniors not going to college in the building trades. This fosters opportunities to an underserved population in Hernando County to be productive. With 10,000 new homes being built, why should the workforce come from out of county? We need to get our residents working.

I served on the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Club; Communities in Schools; CETA, providing training for Chamber members and increased funding-raising abilities from 2016 to 2018. I was ‘man of the year’ recognized by the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition in 2016. I am involved in our community with membership in the Weeki Wachee Kiwanis Club.

Partnerships with private-public, and non-profit is a win-win. I introduced a school program called the Urban Gentleman’s Club, which reduced behavioral incidents in the elementary schools, and raised funding from private businesses and non-profits for uniforms for the students. This program reduced behavioral incidents in elementary schools by 60% freeing more time for teachers to teach! 
I have and continue to support fundraising by non-profits for music, computer, and other school programs.

I am a Republican, who believes in a conservative and fair government. 

I favor creating new revenue streams. Our airport is under-utilized Why? The airport is an avenue to increase revenue with new businesses.

I will create Public-private partnerships to increase services to residents at little or no cost to the government. T-Volt is an example of a working model.

We need to “keep fingers out of the cookie jar” and build the reserves to acceptable levels without overspending revenues. I am a proven leader who gets positive results.
 

What are your thoughts on local regulations in response to COVID-19 type events?

Local regulations should only be in place when the COVID-19 related hospitalization start to rise. If the rise in cases does not produce more hospitalizations, there is no medical emergency to address. No loss of human life is acceptable, nor is the loss of freedoms enjoyed in this country. 

Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added.

More generally there are three areas where ordinances need to be examined. The lack of code enforcement and responses to resident needs; expediting building permits and the whole process of permitting; and business license requirements to do business in Hernando County.  First revolves around quality of life issues and second two more  to the hindrance of doing business in Hernando County.

Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

The County Reserves need increased funding and can be done by prudent management of existing revenues. Keep the hands out of the Cookie Jar. The parks and recreation department need to increase maintenance of the parks. This could be paid for by public-private partnerships to benefit the parks department.

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

This requires an in depth examination of the annual budget. I pledge to examine the County Budget once elected. Often jobs are warehoused as a buffer for unexpected expenses. These unfilled positions show up in budget preparations and are returned as found money at the end of a budget cycle. By reducing warehoused jobs more funds are available to address current needs.
 
If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

No our obligations as stated will go up due to inflation and agreed collective bargained raises. The natural increase in property values has to over these costs or costs will need to be adjusted if the growth does not cover additional expenses. We need to develop a larger business base and diversify markets that support our workforce and service Hernando County.

Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?

We need to develop and manage our water supply for future generations .Time to stop selling water from our aquifer. Planning controlled growth will help in allocation of this vital resource.
Secondly we need to increase airport usage. It is a undervalued asset. Why can’t we attract international cargo traffic and international livestock business. Quarter-horses and prized cattle are brought into Miami, held in quarantine for thirty days then trucked to Central Florida where we are. It would be cheaper for the ranchers and farmers to have this livestock delivered into Hernando County held locally then shipped a short distance. The business that naturally would develop to support the increase in traffic would be a boon to the County along with the development of the abundant land we have to accommodate a complex expansion of the business base.

Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed. 

The high unemployment in Hernando today. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has our unemployment rate at 14.7% with 10,000 individuals applying since April. A lot of businesses will simply not reopen. These displaced workers will need new skills and jobs. Inexpensive training programs like the non-profit my wife and I started can address this void  and be cost and time effective allowing these workers to start to support their families again. A cost effective public-private partnership costing the County little if any resources. Time to get our residents back to work and time to have them build our new homes.
We have to balance the budget not using the reserves as a private piggy bank. Time to keep the hands out of the cookie jar. No more special projects not funded in the budget mid-stream. Want a special project, find the funding or wait for a new budget or start saving in a reserve fund to finance the project.
Reserves need to be at a safe level. No more dipping into reserves and impact funds to balance budget. Excess funds at the end of the budget cycle have to be added to the reserves and not held by departments for future use. The only exception to this would be multi-year projects that are funded over extended periods of time.  I balance my budget, its not rocket science the County needs to do it too.

What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

I have the skill-sets to make this county great along with other talented people. I earned my Masters of Public Administration in 2018 while serving on the School Board. I worked on several projects improving learning and behaviors of students. I used and developed public-private partnerships with businesses to pay expenses where others on the School Board would not. I get things done. I am not just talking about doing good, I am doing it now!

 

NICK NICHOLSON (REP Candidate)

Nick Nicholson

BIO: I understand how to successfully deal with the daily challenges of being a County commissioner. His very logical business approach works well for our county government and his commitment to the families in our community is unsurpassed. He helped the people in Hernando Beach after the flood and protected the private property rights of people in Hernando Beach, Timber Pines, Ridge Manor and others.

I am a Disabled US Veteran and is extremely proud of his service. Though a 100% Disabled Veteran, I earned two masters degrees and run my own business since 1991– Nicholson Engineering.

I am a fiscally conservative Republican who has solidly lived up to his pledge to not raise property taxes, to actively work to bring new jobs to the county and to always vote for what is best for the county.

The county commission raised your taxes 18%. This would not have happened with me on the board. Bring the commission back to the people

My objective in seeking election as your District 1 county commissioner is to return the logical approach to running our local government.  Let’s do this together…

“I pledge to not raise your property taxes.”

What are your thoughts on local regulations in response to COVID-19 type events?

I believe the local response to COVID-19 is appropriate. Older people should protect themselves.

Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added.
 
The landscape ordinance is too costly for the developers. It needs to be modified. It keeps on getting more costly without any real benefit. The requirement for a traffic study also needs to be modified. The requirement for a study when the future trips are 50 peak hour needs to stop when there is no benefit to the road system.
The ordinance requiring a fire hydrant within 500 feet when there is no available water line to supply the water needs to stop. The county requires the developer to extend the water line to the site no matter the cost. This kills projects and jobs. The county should extend the water line because they will get the taxes from the new business and create jobs.

Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

The county should increase funding to bring jobs to the county. The funds will come from tax revenue and the jobs.

Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?
 
There is always waste. The county could save money if the entire county became paperless like the building department. On-line zoning applications, master plan approval, certificate of concurrency would all save money by not having to file paper, scan the paper, and would also save the taxpayers money.

If you are in favor of decreasing the budget, how do you pay for obligated salary increases, cost of living increases, and other inflationary costs?

The contracts would have to be renegotiated, I know this would not be easy and would have to be done over a long period of time. The county employees and the fire department workers do a great job, but if a cut becomes necessary it would have to be spread out over a long period of time.

 Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?

The additional 200 plus acres for the airport for future jobs is very important. The water line extensions are also important to create jobs and bring taxes to the county. The adding of sidewalks for the children is also very important to protect them. We should have sidewalks within two miles of every school.

 Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed. 

The drug trade needs to be controlled as much as possible. I think a better job can be done. The flooding in Hernando Beach cannot be stopped but the county can be there when needed, I did this myself. I believe the future development can be done better with allowing taller buildings in certain areas while protecting the surrounding properties with denser projects that allow for more open areas around the buildings. This could encourage building in in-fill areas where it is not economical now.
 
What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

The current county commission raised taxes 18% and answer only to the powerful. This has to stop. When I was on the commission, it was for the people, not the powerful. I want to give that back to the people and am willing to suffer to get it. I have a proven track record. I am the best candidate to serve the people. I don’t need a job and no one will control me. I am doing this for the people.

 

Address
20 N Main Street Brooksville, FL 34601
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