Brooksville City Council Candidates--Seat 3

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Brooksville City Council Candidates--Seat 3

Fri, 10/09/2020 - 13:49
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Each city council candidate was given the opportunity to provide a 250 word bio and respond to our questions in up to 800 words.

Blake Bell

Blake Bell

BIO: Blake Bell is running for Brooksville City Council, Seat 3. Born and raised in Brooksville, Bell is a seventh-generation Brooksvillian. Bell received his early education in Brooksville schools—graduating from Hernando High School where he served as class president. Bell is a graduate of the University of South Florida and received his law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law. Bell works as an attorney in his Brooksville office—specializing in healthcare law and liability reform. Bell’s platform for Brooksville City Council includes protecting and strengthening law enforcement, fire rescue and ambulance services, reducing burdensome regulations and red tape, enacting fiscally responsible policies aimed at lowering taxes, and supporting efforts to Believe in Brooksville with a renewed focus on community. Bell is endorsed by Hernando County Leaders including Senator Wilton Simpson, Rep. Blaise Ingolia, Sally Daniel, Doug Chorvat, John Emerson, Annie D. Williams, Alvin Mazourek, Juanita Sikes, and Karen Nicolai. Bell received the Hernando County American Legion Citizenship Award and was selected as one of the Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40. Bell received the endorsement of Brooksville Relators and the Nature Coast Lodge 164 Fraternal Order of Police for his strong support of law enforcement.

Q&A

 

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

Local regulations in response to COVID-19 should follow the recommendations provided by the state. Local regulations should never infringe so much upon a business that it is unable to provide necessary goods and services to our residents. We are all in this together. Individuals need to make wise, individual decisions regarding COVID-19. 

 

What are three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

  1. Modify, Modernize and Reduce Building Codes and Zoning Regulations: I would like to look at modifying Building Codes and Zoning Regulations. Many of Brooksville’s Building Codes and Zoning Regulations have been in place since the early 1980s. Some of those were originally adopted based on state mandates that are no longer in place. The City should perform a complete review of all Building Codes and Zoning Regulations to modernize and possibly reduce unnecessary regulations. 
  2. Promote Revitalization Zones: I would like to see ordinances put in place by the City to promote revitalization zones to promote enterprise. 
  3. Expediate the Permit Process: Too often, new business ventures are held up by a  I would like for businesses to have a voice before City Council when permits are 

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

I want to make sure we continue to fully fund our Brooksville Fire Department. A lot of Brooksville residents were not happy to see the dismantle of the Brooksville Police Department. If elected, I would fight to protect our historic Brooksville Fire Department with the commitment to incentivize our fire fighters to stay in Brooksville. Paying for this could be accomplished by implementation of zero-based budgeting and aggressively pursuing grants for fire rescue updates. 

 

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

Yes. Currently, City Council members receive full health benefits and participation in a pension program. If elected, I would work to remove both of these costly city budget items. Serving on the City Council should not be rewarded by full health benefits and a pension plan—the reward for serving on City Council should the difference you are able to make in the city you call home. 

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?

Implementation of a zero-based budgeting system to justify all expenses and to ensure all municipal departments are appropriately staffed and funded.  Also, increase the tax base by encouraging commercial growth and new business growth through economic incentive drivers. 

 

What three city projects are most important and why?

  1. Road and Street Improvements and Maintenance: This is a core function of the City of Brooksville. 
  2. Protect and Strengthen Law Enforcement and Fire Rescue: This is a core function of the City of Brooksville. I stand with the Fraternal Order of Police and happy to have their endorsement of my campaign. 
  3. Tourism and Economic Development- Over the last few years, Brooksville Main Street has partnered with the City to create events to promote tourism in Brooksville. This is an important part of economic development. Neighboring cities are thriving with tourism and economic development. The work of Brooksville Main Street is moving Brooksville in the right direction in competing with our neighboring cities—this needs to continue and grow. 

 

What are the three top issues facing the city that need to be addressed? 

  1. Support Brooksville Businesses—Recently, a sitting member of the City Council called for a boycott of Brooksville businesses. This attitude coming from a sitting member of the City Council must be reversed. The City Council must be the loudest promoter of Brooksville businesses. 
  2. It is continually challenging to provide necessary municipal services in a cost-effective manner. 
  3. City streets are in disarray—the City needs to immediate take action on an infrastructure plan to improve our City streets. 

 

What inspired you to run for city council?

I was born and raised in Brooksville. My family goes back 7 generations in Brooksville. I grew up playing in Brooksville streets, went to Brooksville schools, graduated from Hernando High. I have an immense amount of pride in our little town. I want to see it grow while continuing to be the charming small-town we are so proud to call home. I have been fortunate that my work as an attorney has allowed me to work in municipal planning and budgeting.  I would like to use the skills I have gained from my profession mixed with my love for Brooksville to benefit the residents and businesses of our city. 

 

Tom Dye

Tom Dye

BIO:

Born in Santa Ana, California

Married to Patria A Dye

Education: High school Santa Ana High School, Santa Ana Ca./Sierra High School, Tollhouse California.

Attended Northridge Community College, Northridge California

13th Annual FBI Citizens Academy.

I have been a Brooksville resident for over 11 years.

I was invited by the Tampa field office of the FBI to attend the FBI Citizens Academy.The FBI Citizens Academy was developed to join Community Leaders and the FBI to better work together.

My past work experience includes: Quality Assurance Manager for various Defense subcontractors e.g.- United Avionics.

Due to economic times I changed careers in the late 1990’s to Environmental Health and Safety Management in Industrial and Chemical Facilities. Tom’s main responsibilities included developing programs, policies, training and procedures all designed to make sure that employees went home in the same condition they arrived in.

My last employer was as  the Corporate Environmental Safety Manager (EHS Manager) for Intrepid Power Boats, Inc. in Largo, Fl. 

I am also a public speaker at various events including the West Central Florida Safety Alliance (WCFSA) and on more than one occasion has been a featured speaker at the Safety Now Workshops.

I took early retirement in January 2020 after driving 1.5 to 2 hours to work each way for 5 years. I now do some part-time work as an Environmental, Health & Safety Consultant for select clients.

My hobbies include writing, jewelry making as well as creative photography.

 

Q & A

 

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

 

Hernando County Emergency Management and CDC recommend the use of face-masks. Hernando County Commissioners do not on the basis of personal freedom. I believe that this is exactly the wrong approach. Although, local stores have stepped up and filled the gaps my mandating face-masks inside their stores. I have seen a huge increase of people wearing masks in stores e.g.- Publix, Winn Dixie, Walmart and others. I believe in following the science on health matters and make decisions based on that..Politics should never dictate over science especially where the public health is concerned

 

What are three ordinances that need to be modified/removed/added?

This is a great question, but what is an even better one is what do the citizens and businesses in Brooksville want? 

 

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

Roads, without a doubt, our cities roads especially our iconic brick streets. Also, drainage projects and general maintenance of our existing infrastructure.

I believe that this could be paid for by finally getting serious about the City of Brooksville’s boundaries. What I mean by that is by charter if you have a property that is adjacent to the City of Brooksville, the property owner can petition to become part of Brooksville.  I have advocated for the City of Brooksville to create tax incentives to encourage people to want to annex into Brooksville voluntarily. There is a lot that can be done. Brooksville is the County Seat of Hernando County, we need to start acting like it.

 

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

The City Council is in the middle of working on the budget right now so lets see what they come up with. The good news is it looks like our property taxes will be the same as last year so that is good news. The full costs of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cities budget remains to be seen.  (Submitted prior to budget being finalized)

 

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?

 

What three city projects are most important and why?

I believe the most important issue is to stop talking about converting our one way streets back to pedestrian friendly streets and do something about it which will finally help support and revitalize downtown Brooksville. Of course, Brooksville will have to decide what they want from the downtown properties. Are we going to encourage landlords to rent to retail shops and restaurants? Or are we going to continue to cater to lawyers, title companies, etc. (not that there is anything wrong with them and I’m sure that they pay the rent on time). Professional services are generally closed on the weekends and evenings and do not draw visitors to downtown. On the other hand towns and cities with a vibrant downtown scene that includes; restaurants, small shops and pedestrian/family activities are fun healthy places to visit. Personally, I prefer the latter.  

 

What are the three top issues facing the city that need to be addressed? 

1. - Since the City of Brooksville disbanded the Police Department due to budgetary issues, the City relies on the Hernando County Sheriffs Department for policing services. I am advocating for the creation of a volunteer Citizens Policing Oversight Board that would report directly to the City Council with their findings and recommendations.

2 – Increase the city of Brooksville’s city boundaries by creating tax incentives to encourage voluntary annexation to increase the cities tax base and revenue.

3 – Address the homeless population within the City of Brooksville. I am NOT advocating law enforcement action against the homeless. These are human beings, somebodies parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts or uncles. These people who have had a lot of bad luck and circumstances need help to get back on their feet and there are a lot of organizations who are ready and willing to help them. The City of Brooksville needs to be a clearing house to actually help them and not criminalize or stigmatize the less fortunate.

 

What inspired you to run for city council?

When I decided to run for City Council last year I thought I planned for every possible scenario. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Who plans for this sort of thing anyway?

 Before filing to run, I sought advice from community leaders, business leaders, and especially citizens.

 I had countless hours of phone calls, in person talks and on-line discussions with lots of people

I believe Just saying, I love Brooksville, or “I want to make a difference” is not a plan.

 In January, I took early retirement after a long career as an; Environmental, Health & Safety Manager, for small manufacturing firms, as well as large multi-nationals.

 I have one sister and my Mom and Dad both worked. Before retiring, my Dad ran heavy equipment for a telephone company and my Mom was a Realtor.

 My Parents taught me that I needed to take a stand for what is right, good ethics are an important part of that and most importantly, they taught me to be responsive to others.

 If elected I promise to be responsive to all the citizens of Brooksville, and not just the ones who voted for me. 

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