With some work on its way and more to accomplish, Commissioner Jeff Kinnard on Wednesday announced he’ll seek re-election in 2020 to the District 1 seat he won three years ago.
Kinnard, a Crystal River chiropractor and current board chairman, said he was pleasantly surprised after his election to learn commissioners play a more active role in county policy, from engaging with state lawmakers to seeking assistance from state agencies for projects.
“I didn’t appreciate the amount of time we would be able to take to push those big projects,” he said. “It’s much more working relationship with people. I enjoy it. I really like it.”
In an interview, Kinnard outlined several issues from his current term and what he still wants to accomplish. They include:
• the County Road 491 widening project. While the first phase of widening had already begun when he took office, Kinnard wants to see it completed and work begun on the second phase.
• Extending the Crystal River Airport runway by 200 feet. Kinnard said the extension is necessitated by the state’s widening of U.S. 19. While the road project doesn’t eliminate runway footage, it reduces by 200 feet the “glide slope” for airplanes to clear to access the east-west runway.
Kinnard said the Florida Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration are discussing the perimeters before deciding whether to extend the runway.
• Continuing talks about universal garbage collection and disposal. Kinnard said there are numerous solutions being floated, but before he can go there the board should first lay out exactly what it wants to accomplish.
He said he didn’t think it’s possible for the county to offer curbside trash and recycling service under a universal system at the same price or less than what residents now pay for a private hauler.
“There’s no rush to get this done in three months or six months,” he said. “If we rush, we’ll get it wrong.”
• Getting state funding for trails connecting County Road 486 to Three Sisters Springs, and another multipurpose path along Fort Island Trail between U.S. 19 and Fort Island Gulf Beach.
• Kinnard first suggested boat-launch fees at boat ramps to pay for additional parking and other upkeep at ramp sites. While the board has not settled on a fee plan, the discussion continues.
“We’re moving in a positive direction,” he said.
• Kinnard said the county should play in a role in providing access to health care, citing information that shows high drug use among the county’s youth and pregnant women.
“Our statistics are not good in this county,” he said.
Kinnard, a Republican, won both the Republican primary and general election in 2016 for his first election to public office.