ENDORSEMENT: BOCC District 5

Editor's note: The Chronicle Editorial Board issues endorsements of local candidates. Endorsement decisions are based on multiple interviews conducted with each candidate by the board and staff. Candidates not endorsed by the editorial board of the Chronicle are encouraged to submit a rebuttal to letters@chronicleonline.com no later than Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. All rebuttals submitted prior to the deadline are guaranteed to publish no later than Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, the day before Election Day.

In the District 5 County Commission race, the primary is really the general election. There are just two candidates, both Republicans, so this race will appear on all ballots and everyone can vote on it.

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The candidates are Holly Davis, a newcomer in Citrus County political circles, and current county commissioner (but not incumbent for this seat) Jimmie T. Smith. Smith currently holds the seat in District 3, which now has six Republicans vying for the win, but he decided to jump to District 5, a seat being vacated by the retiring Brian Coleman.

Both clearly care about Citrus County, both have spent years here, and both have family locally. Both want to preserve the county’s history as well as its natural amenities.

They differ, though, in their approaches, and we think Davis has what Citrus County needs.

Smith said citizens bring issues to him frequently, and he prides himself on presenting them at commission meetings for discussion. However, he has been unable to get traction, consensus or action among the other county commissioners. His recent actions regarding a county staffer earned Smith a formal rebuke from his peers on the dais.

Davis, on the other hand, has made a career in strategic planning and gaining consensus. Her 25 years as a marketing consulting firm owner have taught her “the critical nature of strategic plan first.” She has driven success with executive teams in a variety of industries, and has seen the “universally poor results when you don’t start with a sound strategy and a long-term vision.”

She’s proactive, not reactive, and “wants to protect what we have but embrace the future.” To do that, she says, county leadership must think at least 5, 10, 15 years down the road – something she hasn’t seen from the current BOCC.

Davis wants leadership and citizens to create a master plan for the long view – something Citrus County desperately needs, with guaranteed growth coming up the pike (literally) and a disrupted economy sure to change how we live, work and play. Avoid “tactics in search of a strategy,” she says.

Davis, who grew up here, said she is “home for good” now and will bring her best efforts to make real progress on developing a vision and strategy for how the county will grow in the coming decades.

Everyone votes, no matter their party, in this District 5 commission race. The winner on August 18 will win the BOCC seat.

We encourage voters to consider Holly Davis when they cast their ballots.

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