ENDORSEMENT

THE ISSUE: State Representative for Citrus County

OUR OPINION: Ralph Massullo the right choice

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, Oct. 29, 2020. All rebuttals submitted prior to the deadline are guaranteed to publish no later than Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Election Day.

Ralph Massullo, who runs a successful dermatology practice in Citrus County, has represented Citrus County well in the Florida House of Representatives and should be returned for a third term. He has forged an excellent working relationship with our state senator Wilton Simpson, who will be Senate president next year, and together they have brought Citrus County much-needed resources and support.

Massullo counts among his accomplishments several important economic development steps. He helped move legislation forward on skills training in schools to develop workforce skills, important to businesses thinking about locating here. He’ll continue to work on increasing apprenticeship programs and public-private workforce programs. Incorporating new industries is in Massullo’s economic development sights, too, and he counts passage of Florida’s industrial hemp bill as a win.

Infrastructure and transportation are important to economic development, as well. Although he and Simpson have worked with county leaders in supporting extension of the Suncoast Parkway to at least SR. 486, he said the state’s COVID-caused revenue shortfall could affect extension of the roadway west to U.S. 19 and north to I-10. He will continue to advocate for extension of the Suncoast as well as for State Road 41 improvements.

Together with Sen. Simpson, Rep. Massullo has helped steer millions to Citrus County for water improvements and springs restoration projects, something he says he expects to continue.

As a physician, Massullo focused on health, as well, sponsoring a health-care vaccine registry for students. He praises the county’s mental health crisis intervention team model, which has cut down on Baker-Act actions, especially with young people, and would like to see the model be adopted statewide. Locally, he would like to see a receiving facility on county land in Lecanto, located with a new animal services facility. In the next two years, he said, his priorities also include greater access to telehealth.

We don’t agree with Rep. Massullo on everything, but that’s expected. While his challenger, an educator, has some good ideas, we think Massullo will be a stronger representative for Citrus County. With Simpson taking leadership of the state Senate and Massullo, a thoughtful man who has forged excellent working relationships in Tallahassee and beyond, representing us in the in the House, Citrus County is well-poised for the future.

Overall, Massullo has been the right man for the job for Citrus County, and we think he should continue.

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, Oct. 29, 2020. All rebuttals submitted prior to the deadline are guaranteed to publish no later than Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Election Day.