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OPINION: Like Them or Not, Meet Your Local Candidates

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OPINION: By Jason Marshall

Up to this point, my op-eds have focused primarily on national issues, ranging from the Republican debates and gun control to terrorism and climate change. In an effort to focus more on local issues, I decided to take this opportunity to discuss candidates running for office in the election cycle. There are several candidates running for the School Board, Board of County Commissioners, Clerk of the Court, Property Appraiser, County Judge, Supervisor of Elections and even Sheriff.

For the county commissioner positions in district 1, Republicans Michael LaRocca and Joe Swilley are seeking to replace incumbent Board Chairman, Nick Nicholson. As everyone probably is well aware of by now, former Commissioner Nicholson (Former Chairman) has been involved in a scandal involving a prostitute and narcotics. I covered Joe Swilley in a November op-ed titled “It’s Not So Silly to be for Swilley“. I have not had the chance to sit down with Mr. LaRocca, but that is in the works.

In district 3, Republican John Allocco is hoping for a shot to oust Democratic incumbent commissioner, Diane Rowden. As of now, Mr. Allocco has no competition in the primary. Mr. Allocco is also the Vice Chairman of the Hernando County Republican Executive Committee – I worked with him for a couple years prior to my resignation. We also worked together on the Herman Cain campaign in 2011. I hope to sit down with Allocco in the coming weeks.

District 5 is one that is sure to grab a lot of attention, as the retiring Jim Adkins is leaving quite a void to fill. Former commissioner Dave Russell will face off with fellow Republican, Steve Champion, president of American Gun & Pawn. I plan to meet with Mr. Champion in February, where we’ll discuss where he stands on the issues and how he plans to defeat Russell. Seasoned politician Dave Russell is a well-known, well-funded and has the support of the local establishment.

Incumbent Clerk of the Court, Don Barbee, remains unopposed, as well as incumbent sheriff, Al Nienhuis, Property Appraiser, John Emerson, and Tax Collector, Sally Daniel. The only potentially competitive race is for Supervisor of Elections, where incumbent Shirley Anderson faces Democratic candidate Debra Allen Myers.

Two candidates plan to go head to head for a County Judge seat; Donald M. “Sonny” McCathran, Jr. will defend his position against Local Attorney, Kristie Ruppe. It’s always extremely difficult to find information to pass on to you when it comes to judges, but I will do my best to pass on anything I can find.

There are two non-partisan school board races in districts 2 and 4. In district 2, perennial candidate Rose Rocco is running against Willis Reece and Linda Prescott. I know nothing about the latter two candidates but most “natives” to the area know Democrat Rose Rocco very well.

District 4 incumbent Gustave “Gus” Guadagnino, a well-known and active member of the community, is challenged by Michael Gordon. This duo faced off in a 3-way race in 2012 involving Robert Neuhausen, when Mr. Gordon was eliminated, leaving Mr. Neuhausen in a run-off against Mr. Guadagnino.

Folks, if you want to get the establishment out of power, then you need to stand up and say that having incumbents unopposed is unacceptable. Donald Trump supporters claim that the primary driving force behind their success is being fed up with the establishment. Yet here we are, seven months from the election, and we have four incumbent Republicans who are unopposed in the primary. And, we have big-money candidates running against grassroots candidates; what do you think the result will be?

If we want a citizen government, then WE THE CITIZENS must step up to the plate and make it happen.

Contact me at [email protected] if you have future op-ed suggestions.


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  • Jason, we don;t have district representation. The disricts are only where a canidate has to move after the election. You should refer to the election as the district number seat or perhaps do a story clarifying how we dont have district representation as so any voters think we do

    Wednesday, 27 January 2016, 5:49 am
  • Good Grief !! I Hope Not…

    Tuesday, 26 January 2016, 1:08 am
  • I agree with you, Backwoods. We have a shadow government in Hernando County.

    Monday, 25 January 2016, 8:47 pm
  • Dennis, first off I don’t like the man! Just stating more elected officials should be more accessible to the public, talk radio, town hall meetings, etc.

    Monday, 25 January 2016, 6:19 pm
  • “Be Honost”, how am I promoting false information? The county IS divided into 5 districts, and each candidate IS running by district. Now, if you want to argue that you don’t have to live in the district you’re running for, and that all citizens are able to vote for any of the commission candidates regardless of district, then you have a valid point. But no, I’m not promoting any false information.

    Monday, 25 January 2016, 3:48 pm
  • Who is running against Brad King? its time to get him out of office with the horrible job he has been doing in the State Attorney’s office. The bad seeds must be taken out or the same thing will happen over and over do not allow this guy to go another election without someone challenging his position. Is everyone afraid of him? Is he that powerful that no one will challenge his seat? People we need to start changing the corruption in this state. It is the number one state in the country with Political Corruption. If we clean up one state at a time we may eventually be able to clean the country up and become the great nation we once were.

    Monday, 25 January 2016, 11:06 am
  • Backwoods, even the host of that talk radio show noted that Nicholson laughed a lot. Please note in the future that excessive laughing is a tell, a behavior accompanying a lie.

    Monday, 25 January 2016, 9:59 am
  • I don’t believe Nicholson has much of a chance for reelection, however, I did appreciate him being on local talk radio and answering questions from the public. I wish all elected officials had the guts to do that.

    Sunday, 24 January 2016, 6:49 pm
  • I will be looking forward to your interview with Mr. Champion, and I would also like to know what if anything the citizens can do regarding the ones who are unopposed. I am unfamiliar with most of the commissioners,but will start doing my own research . Frankly I am tired of the good Ole boy types. I am familiar with the one who recently hit rnrf for the hooker,drug thing, he certainly should be finished. I will be watching this op ed closely as we all should be. If we want to make AMERICA great again, let’s start right here in Hernando County. Thanks Jason

    Saturday, 23 January 2016, 7:52 pm
  • Honest, absolutely agree!

    Saturday, 23 January 2016, 12:46 pm
  • Jason, I think you are promoting false information when you even use the word “districts” in Hernando County. Our commissioners serve “at large” and don’t have individual districts. In other words John Allocco can get more votes in “district 3” than Dianne Rowden and still lose the election .We have 2 current commissioners serving today that lost the election in their purported districts. This is because the ENTIRE COUNTY gets to vote for the “district 3 seat” The district map the county puts out only defines where the 5 commissioners are required to live AFTER the election is certified. THATS ALL!! There is a movement in town to put a virtual fence around the 5 districts and let voters in those districts select their own commissioner.

    Saturday, 23 January 2016, 7:51 am
  • Finally, people in Hernando County are fed up with government as usual, losers in office and at the helm. We citizens will never get the respected leaders we surely need unless the voters in Hernando get off there butts and vote for quality and fairness in those seeking office. The problem, how do you figure who those persons are? The election campaigns this year should be from the citizens in every meeting given, ask the difficult questions, put those seeking office on notice, deliver what you preach.

    Saturday, 23 January 2016, 7:30 am
  • here we go again with a group of losers, self serving officials who think they can do what ever they want and thrive, right Nick, whores and drugs, yea I can lead this community, who really cares anymore, since Obama will be out of office, maybe he would be available to bring his brand of politics

    Saturday, 23 January 2016, 5:51 am
  • That is going to be the determinant of my vote this year: Who is ready to fire the unelected county government, Sossamon, his four horsemen, and Collier?

    Friday, 22 January 2016, 9:42 pm
  • Johndavidhanna, this is an issue that has been raised by others (re: unelected administration). I’m assuming you’re referring to Len Sossaman? Or am I wrong?

    Friday, 22 January 2016, 6:40 pm
  • I’m feeling like the big issues slip by handled by the unelected administration who spend a good bit of time handling money into their own pockets (In my opinion). I would like to look into that further but how? and why?
    Although I like the some of the runners ask them what a dead fax is or what it’s used for. They won’t know because they don’t have a clue as to how everything works. They mostly just want to be involved, feel good about themselves and collect those salaries, the base that you know about and all the others that you don’t.

    Friday, 22 January 2016, 5:30 pm
  • Your banner ” Local politics” kinda says it all. Small town politicians are like HOA presidents..wanna be’s who really only care about how many people know them.

    Friday, 22 January 2016, 5:28 pm

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