Meet the Candidates: County Commissioner District 5

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Meet the Candidates: County Commissioner District 5

Sun, 07/26/2020 - 14:08
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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 NPA candidate Michael Burmann in the General Election on Nov. 3.  District 5 covers a large area, extending from the center of the county to the eastern end.  Candidates must reside in the area of the county they are running to represent.  All voters in the county vote for candidates from a single district.

KEVIN HOHN (REP)

Kevin Hohn

BIO:
I served in the US Air Force where I met my wife of 42 years, who is also a veteran. After finishing my tour, I attended the University of Florida where I earned my degree in Accounting. I spent the next 22 years in Federal law enforcement as a Special Agent with the US Treasury Department. During that time, I worked major financial investigations involving Organized Crime, Public Corruption, International Money Laundering and Counter-terrorism. I was promoted up through the ranks to Senior Management. After my retirement in 2005, I spent two years conducting Counter-Terrorism assessments overseas for the State Department and the intelligence community. We moved to Brooksville in 2006. Over the next several years, I was hired as a Regional Manager for two Fortune 500 companies who provided investigative information technologies to the law enforcement community. Also during that time, I was selected for the Brooksville City Council in 2011 and was Mayor in 2014. My wife and I have been involved in several community projects. I was a Coach for the First Tee of Brooksville which was an after-school program which introduces the game of golf but more importantly teaches values which will help shape their lives. 

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

Once the emergency declaration was ended a few weeks ago, there has been no regulations initiated from the county. Although the impact has fortunately been much less than other counties, we need to continue to be mindful of the dangers of COVID-19 and how our behavior might adversely impact others around us.
 
Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

Sale of county owned property - While I believe the government should not be a land baron, when properties are sold to the public, a more transparent process must be developed. From acquisition to public announcement of the sale to appraisal of the property, each step must ensure the integrity of the transaction is protected. 

Code Enforcement - Recent budget constraints have caused the reduction in not only code enforcement personnel but the manner in which their duties are carried out. The lack of enforcement has a negative effect on property values and reduces the attractiveness for potential new residents. 

Planning and zoning – Again there is a lack of consistency applied by the County Commission. Individuals who conduct activities which are not authorized relative to the current zoning should not be allowed to continue that activity. The activity should be ceased immediately. If the individual would like to apply for rezoning, that is their right. 

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

The Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) list continues to grow every year. It has become more like a letter to Santa than a viable opportunity for improvement. Although our bond rating was damaged by the decimation of the reserves, there is hope for recovery thanks to the outstanding work by the County Administrator and his staff. If possible, a bond issuance should be explored to finance parts of the CIP. Interest rates are at an all-time low and money may never be cheaper to leverage than it is today. 

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

The County Administrator and his staff did a terrific job in reducing expenses last year. Reserves have been restored to the proper level, but we must continue to look for process inefficiencies. Because of the uncertainly revolving around the effects of the COVID-19 on the county finances, I would ask the BOCC to be cautious in their approach to decreasing ad valorem taxes. Otherwise, we will return to the days of dangerously low reserves and minimal growth. 

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?

I am in favor of continuing to eliminate work processes that are inefficient or unnecessary. I am in favor of providing the BOCC with variance reports to ensure they are aware of current spending levels. We can now use a scalpel instead of a hatchet to reverse the excess spending.

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

Business Development – We must begin to attract larger companies, especially in the manufacturing sector. We have begun to improve the opportunities for our workforce through technical education. But there must be jobs available for there to be any value to the training. Otherwise, the workforce we just paid to train, moves to another county. 

Airport Development – this is an asset that has been under utilized for too long. The Airport Advisory Committee is filled with forward thinking members. We need to provide them an opportunity to develop a strategy which will propel our diamond in the rough, into the future. 
Road Construction – Growth is a multi-faceted formula. One of the primary ingredients is Infrastructure. Primary thoroughfares need to be widened and or repaired. And now, with traffic being reduced due to COVID-19, would have been an excellent time to accelerate several of those projects. But again, due to the poor budget situation of the last few years, we would have to borrow the funds necessary to complete the projects. 
 
Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed.

Budget and Growth are two obvious choices which I have already discussed. The third, and possibly even more important is the division among our residents. More than anything, I would like my candidacy to unite Hernando County. I want every citizen to believe that their elected officials are working for them and not just a chosen few.
 
What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

Initially, it was the mismanagement of the budget. Since then, I have learned there are other intangible issues such as ethics, integrity, and the true spirit of service that are currently missing. We must do better!

STEVE CHAMPION (REP, Incumbent)

champion

BIO: 
I'm a fifth-generation Hernando county resident and local business owner. My five children attend or graduated from Hernando county public schools. I'm very proud of my son who is a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps. I'm your consistent conservative leader on the Board of county commissioners. I have consistently voted for what's best for you and your businesses.  I voted AGAINST the massive tax increase last year, for eliminating burdensome regulations and for your 2nd amendment. Please vote for me Steve Champion on August 18th and November 3rd.

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

I believe the government's job is to inform the public of the health hazards present however I'm against any mandate or restriction from the government on your personal FREEDOM. 
 
Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

I've personally lead the charge to remove dozens over the past 4 years. I don't believe on adding any additional regulation unless absolutely necessary.
 
Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

Increase funding means additional taxes on our residents, which I am AGAINST!  I believe our government needs to be as small as possible. Revenue increases if our economy is doing well. So my focus is making Hernando County attractive for our businesses which in turn add high paying jobs! 
 
Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

I believe the entire increase can be cut that was added last year. After our audit it was determined we did not need that tax increase that was passed by a 3-2 vote ( I voted NO )
 
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 small increase in cost of living etc should easily be covered by our growth in community. We also have to analyze contracts that obligate us for years in the future. 
 
Please describe up to three county projects that are most important to the county and why?

- Airport expansion continues to be our focus for economic development. I lead the way to get self-fueling at the airport which is increasing traffic.

- Our waterways especially the Weeki Wachee River. We have been working with the state to preserve these beautiful features of our county. 

- State mandates regarding septic to sewer projects. I have worked hard to protect citizens from this unfunded mandate. 
 
Please describe up to three top issues facing the county that need to be addressed.

- Increased population. We need to have smart growth. We are constantly challenging if projects are good for Hernando County. We have a great county and people want to move here. 

- We can not continue to grow government at over 5% a year. I challenge this every year. Private business would never grow at this pace. It's unsustainable. 

- I believe our first responders do a terrific job here, We need to continue to support them going forward.  

What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

This county is my home and will continue to be forever. I want to be the leader that helps protect Hernando County.

MICHAEL BURMANN (NPA)

MIchael Burmann

BIO: 
I am a 37 year resident of Hernando county and have lived in all 5 districted. I am married to my wife Diana for 40 years and we have two adult children. We own two small businesses. I am a State Certified Home Inspector and my wife runs our antique shop in Brooksville. She is a retired school teacher and a great partner in everything I do. We have both been on many mission trips through our church to some every poor environments but have always consider our home community as our top priority. I was a Hernando county Housing Authority board member ( appointed by the Governor) for 8 years. This was a volunteer position to help improve housing in our county for the needy. During my time on the board a chairman, we built Magnolia Gardens a Senior low income apartment complex, but what I am most proud of is our A grade from HUD. When I first arrived on the board HUD considered us to be a failing agency, and when I retired from the board 8 years later we had received 7 straight years of an A grade.

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

I was disappointed that we did not see all our local elected officials publicly asking the community to take the precautions of wearing a mask and minimizing socialization. Public service announcements on the tv and radio with everyone from the school board to the state reps. A unified message of we can beat this thing together. I do not believe we needed a mandate, ordinance, or law to demand these actions.
 
Describe up to three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

1. The sign ordinance. A business can not put a sign out in the easement, but they can have a person standing in that same area spinning and waving it at drivers by. 
2. Panhandling at intersection should not be allowed. 
3. Littering ordinance needs to be enforced. Waiting for the light to change at an intersection is not where you dump your ash tray. 
 
Do you see any areas where the county needs to increase funding?  How could this be paid for?

First we need to find areas to save before we talk about any increases. We need to handle the budget in a whole new way.
 
Do you see any areas where funding/the budget can be cut?

There are many small things that can be done to save funds, but they will add up to something significant. 

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?

Each year our revenues will increase just because of growth and increased property values. This will be enough to pay for the obligations. 

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

1. Airport development is extremely important. There are very few counties that have an airport with a runway able to accommodate cargo planes. I believe we are a prime location for a large distributor. (UPS, Fedex, Amazon) 

2. The pier at Bayport. It has been in poor condition for 6 years from storm damage. Lets return back to being the nature coast. 

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

1. The need for clean drinking water. With future growth we must make sure we can provide the water needed. It has been a while since our last 3 year drought, but in my 37 years here as a resident I have seen it happen several times. We need to be prepared. 

2. We should be generating solar power at the county dump. The completed cell provides the perfect angle to capture solar. I would also like to see if we can incinerate our trash rather than burying it. 

3. We need to partner with the schools to prepare the next generation. 
 
What inspired you to run for county commissioner?

I believe we are in need of government leaders who understand what it means to be a servant of the people. Special interest groups and money seem to have a bigger voice than the people. I think it is time to have an open discussion of ideas to improve our county without it needing to be Party approved, and for the voice of the people to be acknowledged. Government OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE shall not perish from the earth. (Abraham Lincoln)

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