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.