Gerry Mulligan-Publisher

You can say something good about every candidate who is appearing on Tuesday’s primary ballot.

Really.

The world has gone nuts. We spend so much time believing the worst in people who run for office.

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Primary elections are done on Tuesday, how about we start believing the best in people. We want everyone else to think the best about us — how about we each do the same thing.

So to the challenge — let me say something good about every candidate on the ballot.

Start with the GOP race for sheriff, probably the most bitter race in Citrus County this season.

• Patrick Crippen: He is a local candidate who has probably run the best organized campaign of anyone this primary season. On top of that, he is a really nice guy.

• Mel Eakley: He is a smart cop. He’s got tremendous law enforcement experience in Pasco County where he started out at the bottom and became one of the top commanders.

• Michael Klyap Jr.: He was a beat cop in Crystal River and got promoted through the system to leadership jobs. He always found the time to be a Little League and flag football coach. And he has organized a group that provides military honors at the funerals of veterans.

• Michael Prendergast: He is the sheriff and his wife, Namoi, is just about the nicest person you’ve ever met. The sheriff also finds the time to be extremely active with the Knights of Columbus.

The property appraiser’s race also has found candidates and some not-so-nice things have been said. But it only takes a quick look at the candidates to see they are all good people.

• Cregg Dalton works with the sheriff’s department, but he serves as the voluntary leader of a group called Men Building Men through the county Education Foundation. The group provides mentoring to young men by volunteers.

• David Gregory has retired from the property appraiser’s office and has the insight of that experience. And he is about as plain spoken as it gets.

• Tim Reynard works in the property appraiser’s office, but he and his family still have time to be active volunteers with the Blessings program.

• Rob Tessmer is a young and successful businessman, but he also volunteered his time to be president of the Rotary Club of Inverness, one of the youngest ever to serve in the respected role.

In the race for superintendent of schools:

• Sam Himmel, as the current superintendent of schools, has more employees working for her than any other person in Citrus County. More than 2,200 people call her boss. But on weekends she is sometimes called upon to work a shift at the family gift store in Inverness. She does it with a smile.

• Paul John Reinhardt is the challenger in the race for school superintendent. He has tenacity. A lot of it.

In the race for supervisor of elections:

• Scott Adams, the former county commissioner, can be very friendly to every person he meets. He also has a delightful family.

• Maureen “Mo” Baird is the most unpretentious person on the campaign trail.

In County Commission District 3:

• Thomas Joseph Corkery is relentless. He has strong opinions and wants to be heard, so he runs for political office. He funds his own campaign and says exactly what he thinks.

• Ruthie Davis Schlabach is a smart businesswoman who will not be roughed up by bullies on our county commission. It was about four years ago when she first had a run-in with county government and was ignored by those in power. Now she is running for the job.

• Mark S. Hammer is a local guy who graduated from Lecanto High School and has spent his life involved in community activities in Citrus County. He is not afraid to be the leader.

• Angel Lewis owns Riviera Mexican Restaurant in Crystal River and is a second generation restaurant owner. She has the most pleasant personality of any candidate on the campaign trial. You spend five minutes with Angel and you immediately like her.

• Luis Marin is a retired cop with a very organized platform on the issues facing Citrus County. He is logical and a straight shooter.

• Edwin Lewis Roberts has served previously in elected positions and he knows how the process works. He is also not afraid to kick the status quo in the shin.

In county commission District 5:

• Holly Davis grew up in Citrus County and went off and created a successful business. She thinks strategically and long-term, a skill that has been in short supply in Citrus County.

• Jimmie T. Smith has experience as a county commissioner and a state representative. He also has the knack for listening to people who are not insiders and advocating for their positions.

In the Circuit Judge (Brooksville) race:

• George Angeliadis has been doing a good job as an appointed judge and he had a good reputation as the city attorney for Crystal River.

• Pam Vergara has a history of accomplishments. She first got her Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from USF and became a professor. In 2010 she graduated from Stetson University’s College of Law to become a lawyer. Smart is an understatement.

School Board District 2:

• Virginia "Ginger" Bryant is a veteran school board member who came from the classroom and cares about kids. When she speaks, she actually has something to say.

• Danielle Damato Doty is the most cheerful person on the 2020 campaign trail. She smiles and knows how to relate to people. She also is a Citrus County native who has extensive experience working at the community college and with programs for children.

• Mark Garlock is a music teacher in Crystal River who knows the education system from the inside. He has an intense desire to make things better.

So there you have it. While it has become routine to speak in negatives, it is easy to find the positive in every person on the ballot. The real measure of success comes when the candidates use their experience and intelligence to problem solve on behalf of the public.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could change the conversation from how "bad" candidates are to what their "ideas" are for going forward? We’d have a better county for it.

Gerry Mulligan is the publisher of the Chronicle. Email him at gmulligan@chronicleonline.com.

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