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THE ISSUE: Citrus County Commission District 5.
OUR OPINION: Charles Poliseno is best prepared to serve.
Voters will select a new county commissioner next Tuesday in the District 5 race because incumbent Winn Webb decided to step down to run for sheriff.
For the record, let us say upfront that we were saddened that Webb decided to leave the commission because he was just coming into his own as an intelligent member of the board.
All four candidates who have qualified for the commission race are Republicans, thus creating an open primary where all voters can participate in the selection. The top vote-generator on Aug. 14 will win the job.
The four candidates include:
* Scott Adams, a business owner from Inverness and a former candidate for the job.
* Charles Poliseno, the county’s former public safety director and currently emergency preparedness supervisor at the Progress Energy site near Crystal River.
* Theodora “Teddi” Rusnak, a citizen activist who has led the Citrus County Council for the last four years.
* Mike Smallridge, a local businessman who also serves on the Citrus County Hospital Board of Trustees and has been deeply engaged in the controversy at the public facility.
In our view, Charles Poliseno is best prepared to become the next county commissioner. Poliseno is an intelligent and articulate man who has a good understanding of the complex issues facing county government. He served as the county’s public safety director and now has a leadership position with Progress Energy — the county’s largest employer and taxpayer.
Poliseno graduated from Citrus High School and went to work for the county emergency medical service. He worked his way up through the ranks and went to college at the same time. He left county employment because his management style did not blend well with then-county administrator Anthony Schembri.
A close second to Poliseno is Teddi Rusnak, the leader of the Citrus County Council and a regular attendee at the county commission meeting. Rusnak knows the issues well and has a good background in management and business. She is articulate and has good support from civic groups around the county.
Prior to the election, Rusnak was not supportive of Progress Energy’s plans to construct nuclear power plants in Levy County because of environmental concerns. While we want the proposed Levy plants to be environmentally safe, we also understand the importance of the huge construction project on the local economy. During these tough economic times, and the current Duke/Progress Energy flap, a totally supportive county commission would be desirable.
While candidate Rusnak did testify at Nuclear Regulatory Commission hearings against the Levy plants, she did say during the campaign that she supports moving those proposed nuclear facilities back across the river into Citrus County.
Candidate Mike Smallridge, in our view, does not yet have the track record to serve on the county commission. As a member of the hospital governing board, Smallridge has failed to show leadership or the ability to solve the problems facing the county hospital. For this reason alone voters should not endorse his candidacy.
Scott Adams, the final of the four candidates, is the best known. Adams has been a controversial figure for years and has been in and out of the headlines. Not all of his interactions have been positive.
While youthful indiscretions might be overlooked, we are more concerned with the problems Adams has had paying attention to county rules pertaining to development and the permitted uses of property.
In the past, when he has found county regulations inconvenient, he has simply ignored them and then asked for forgiveness after the work was done. It would be ironic if voters now put him in charge of those same rules.
Adams is a nice man who says he has changed his ways. But he has failed to articulate a real campaign position other than to say he can work with others to make things better.
We recommend voters support Charles Poliseno in the District 5 race. He knows county government from the inside and the outside and is best positioned to move the community forward.