Tavares, FL August 15, 2016
(Aug 23 - we are constantly adding updates with external links, videos, etc)
The 2016 Primary voting is approaching for August 30, 2016, but early voting started Aug. 15..
You should also attend the North Lake County election Hob Nob this Thursday, August 18 at Lake Sumter State College Magnolia Room. Tickets are $12 but you get free beer and wine, culinary treats and meet lots of candidates. Get your tickets at local USB Bank branches or at the door (if they don't run out).
- For 10 years, I have written in this blog about local government & politics, and have attended Board meetings of the Lake County Board, Lake County School District Board, North Lake County Hospital District, several committees and some local cities like Tavares and Eustis. Thus I have a grasp of issues confronting local elected officials and the abilities they need to deal with more important public policy, budgets and more educated and experienced staff.
- No Democrats, because anyone that supports Hillary or Obama is against a fiscal conservative and values based society which I support. I am a fiscal conservative, not a social conservative.
- No business networkers - There are a few elected politicians who join every group and board that they can, and then sit there and do nothing, since they avoid conflict so as not to antagonize anyone. Thus they are placeholders without much of a track record of initiating programs, issue leadership or resolving issues. They just approve staff recommendations and vote with the majority. Examples include just about any financial advisor on a board or people that sell on commission or depend on service based clients. Watch them and are they people who never speak up, analyze, criticize or go against the majority. If so, they are networkers, not leaders. They will usually just support staff since they can say "the staff knows what they are doing" to get off the hook for issues.
- Business aptitude is very important. How can we expect elected officials to set policy and budgets if they don't understand budgeting, and are not analytical. When staff presents a proposed budget and doesn't show the prior two years data for comparison, we need an analytical person who demands comparison detail over 3+ years to see what the staff REALLY changed in the budget.
- I prefer officials that have a 4-year degree and it is better if they have a masters or are a manager in a company. Elected officials without degrees or business expertise tend to just accept staff recommendations from higher educated staff due to lack of ability to challenge staff concepts.
- Candidates who come from full time government employment are NOT the best candidates unless they have significant management and budget experience. Why should we have elected officials who also work in another government agency? There is too much of that, and their election extends the status quo of government benefits and other practices rather than challenge them.
- Elected officials must have an ability to have a grassroots empathy with voters, taxpayers and residents over special interests like environmentalism, land developers, etc. They then must have a bias for action, vs just talking and leaning back in their chair. A clear, positive example is Lake County Board Commissioner Leslie Campione, who frequently is championing grass roots efforts, not just approving staff ideas. The unacceptable reverse of that is an official who only reacts to issues brought to the board, and makes decisions to benefit their contributors (Jimmy Conner).
My 2016 Primary Election Recommendations in order on the ballot - this is the primary election, and most positions are partisan, so these are the Republican candidates unless specified (School Board is non-partisan):
The President is NOT on the primary ballot, but support Trump now. Any support for any other candidate or apathy is a vote for anti-values, big-government candidate Hillary.
US Senator: Marco Rubio. He is controversial, but I have no idea who the remaining candidates are. The more experienced candidates dropped out when Rubio decided to run after dropping out of the Presidential race.
US Congress District 11: Justin Grabelle. Grabelle was Chief of Staff in the office of well liked conservative Congressman Rich Nugent. In contrast, opponent Dan Webster avoids conflict and rarely supports grassroots issues. He is just "there" but not a leader, so we need new blood. Unfortunately, Webster may have the advantage of funding and establishment support, but he won't be a leader. Yes, he ran for House Leader, but that is about the only plus factor. If you read his newsletters, they are all about little old ladies and nothing on major conservative issues or stands. If you call his office, the staff can't ever tell you where he stands on proposed legislation. He avoids appearances at conservative groups due to the hard questions they ask. He doesn't publicize town halls, and speaks at groups like the Chambers without answering questions. We need an active, conservative leader who will act on tough issues and answer questions about them, not a below the radar incumbent who avoids conflict. If you want more info on Grabelle and Webster, read this August 23 Daily Commercial article.
Florida State Senator: David E. Gee, a newcomer to politics with significant business expertise. The other candidates are both termed out Florida Republican Reps, but they are establishment politicians that give answers reflecting political answers. All three candidates appear good, but I believe Gee will actually support conservative grassroots issues more than the other "experienced" politicians. (See update below). O'Toole has angered many conservatives over lack of action on Common Core while she was Chair of the House Education Committee. Dennis Baxley is sending out mailers saying we need to do something about Common Core, but he did little in the last 8 years in the House. When asked about actions to prevent the Feds bringing in unvetted, Syrian Muslim only refugees, both O'Toole and Baxley avoid the issue by saying they support Gov. Scott prohibiting refugees, but propose no other actions. Do you believe them?
Update Aug. 18, 2016: The group Florida Stop Common Core Coalition came out with their ratings of FL legislator candidates. David Gee received an A, Baxley got a D, and O'Toole got an F. O'Toole was the Chair of the FL House Education Committee and wouldn't listen to opponents of Common Core. "Rep. Baxley mailed out deceptive campaign literature", they say, with examples.
Florida State Representative Dist. 31 - Jennifer Sullivan is the local conservative grassroots favorite. Opponent Theo Bob is a funny personality from Eustis, but not a seriously supported candidate.
Sheriff: Peyton Grinnell has the support of retiring Sheriff Gary Borders and has worked in the Lake County Sheriff Dept. for years in a leadership role. Internally supported Sheriff candidates benefit from a machine of supporters and Sheriff Deputies, so the other two outsider candidates will get swamped. After the primaries, expect Grinnell to face off against NPA Chuck Broadwell, who is the Clermont Police Chief and has expertise from the NY Police Department.
Supervisor of Elections: Margie Eaton. 40-year incumbent Emogene Stegall is retiring, so this is a chance for new blood (and finally, a NEW, better developed website). Margie works in the court system for a Judge and is very familiar with implementing legislated procedures like Elections processes. She ran against Stegall 4-years ago and almost won then.
Her primary opponent Alan Hays, is a termed out State Senator, and has a warchest of $200,000 left over from Senate campaigning so he can outspend everyone. That is why you are inundated by mailers from him. Do you want this career politician or someone like Margie who actually focuses on ensuring the voter procedures are objective, accurate and unbiased, and not looking for another political position? Vote for Margie Eaton.
The other opponent, Eustis Mayor Michael Holland, practices cronyism but is well liked by many Eustis residents, but underfunded. I have written about his cronyism practices HERE (Mayor Holland pushes crony purchase of building by friends at taxpayer expense) and HERE (Eustis Council selection methods) that he was involved in. HERE is a more detailed white paper I wrote on Holland's crony practices related to using City of Eustis taxpayer funds to buy a run down, local building at more than market value and then immediately turn around and lease the building to friends for $500 down. He is a Republican running in the Republican primary, but a scan of his contributions indicates numerous Democrats. The worst thing is to elect a Supervisor of Elections who practices cronyism. Vote for Margie Eaton.
Board of County Commissioners - Dist. 1 - Mike Levine (revised Aug. 22) is a new candidate who is the former head of the Lake County Republicans, and is a master salesman in real estate. He also lives in the District. Levine is a champion for developing South Lake and those residents might like him (as well as Loucks) since they want more clout in County Board meetings and land use decisions. Levine will have to learn how to work with four other Board members, however, and not get mad if his ideas are not immediately accepted.
Candidate Tim Loucks also actually LIVES in District 1, is Mayor of Groveland, talks about his improvements there, and will get many local votes from that area.
Incumbent Tim Sullivan was outed when people discovered he never moved into District 1 as promised, but rented an empty apartment to "show" he lived there. However, a legal decision just came out saying Sullivan, by renting the vacant apartment, meets residency requirements for the position. Sullivan, however, DOES support fiscal conservative Leslie Campione and voted against the 14% tax increase pushed through by Jimmy Conner, Welton Cadwell and Sean Parks. But Sullivan just attends meetings and doesn't really initiate anything. A vote for Sullivan is not a mistake, but a vote for status quo, and I think Levine will take initiative more often.
Board of County Commissioners Dist. 3 - Wendy Breeden. She is a retired, experienced County Director with budget expertise and much community support, having led the County library system and County Parks & Recreation. She would provide stability and maturity, and would replace narcissistic incumbent Jimmy Conner who has verbally attacked women (like THIS attack on Leslie Campione) in a bully manner as described by me in this blog and writers in local papers like this one or this article.
Conner verbally demands heavy contributions from land developers and attorneys who benefit from his approvals of land use changes. View his $81,000 in contributions HERE for yourself. Many are out of County firms and attorneys. He led the initiative to over-ride standard procurement procedures to award a contract to a favored lobbyist. He also was one of three board members (Welton Cadwell and Sean Parks were the others) who rammed through a 14% property tax increase in 2014 so he could then take credit for not increasing taxes this year. Out of all your votes, this one is ethically important. Do you want a long time political official who practices cronyism and distorts the truth, and demands pay to play, or a mature, stable professional manager like Breeden? At one time he actually reduced costs for taxpayers, but that stopped in 2014.
Conner just recently supported a large grant that will use Federal state taxpayer funds to hire 15 more firemen for two years. But then the county will be stuck with paying their full salaries and benefits. By using the grant now, the Board escapes having to justify current tax spending, but then taxpayers will be stuck with the bill in two years.
HERE is the website www.FireJimmy.com which contains details on Conners cronyism related to 60% of his campaign contributions from those who will profit from his decisions related to land development. Cronyism needs to stop in Lake County. Vote for Breeden for Commissioner.
Board of County Commissioners Dist. 5 - Josh Blake - If you want new conservative blood vs longtime incumbent Welton Cadwell, then Blake is your choice. Welton is the respected statesman of the County, he Chairs an important Wekiva Commission and he was recently named to the Board of the National Association of County Officials (NACO). However, he also voted as a member of the tax hike cartel in 2014 to raise property taxes by 14%. Welton is a Republican in Name Only but he doesn't hide his orientation for increased taxes and big government spending on projects like recreational parks (as opposed to the cities providing the parks). So the choice is new blood, or OLD RINO blood. However, Blake knows the State legislative process by working as a Chief aid for FL Rep. Marlene O'Toole, and should hit the ground running to help get Board legislative priorities passed.
About Candidates for Lake County Water Authority (LCWA):
READ this Orlando Sentinel overview of the candidates. Some of them have no clue about the LCWA. When they start talking about quality of water in the lakes or lake levels, they have no idea that is not in the jurisdiction of the LCWA, which covers groundwater.
Lake County Water Authority - Dist. 1 - Butch Hendrick (REVISED Aug 22) - who is a fiscal conservative who wants to stop the boondoggle programs at LCWA. He talks about the NURF program eating up funds for years without even being operated. He talks about why is LCWA paying for Sheriff Deputies and boats to patrol the lakes when LCWA's charter is groundwater, not lakes. LCWA also may be like the North Lake Hospital District, started years ago and now collecting a pot of money without having any authority over lakes. Opponent Keith Farner is a Sheriff Deputy (see the connection with funding) and was on the Board before and favors more spending on LCWA programs. Thus if you favor a grassroots, fiscal conservative, Hendricks should get your vote and I like him the most.
Lake County Water Authority - Dist. 3 - Diane Mullins. Mullins is active in the Lake County Republicans and it is rare for active Republicans to get involved in environmental or water issues, but she is doing so. I don't know the opponent Gregory Scott, but he talks about lake water quality for boaters which means he has no clue about what LCWA does. Mullins does know the difference, and wants to use the position as a bully pulpit to improve Lake County's impact on lake water decisions by the St. John's Regional Water District. St. John's is a committee made up of several counties where Lake County does not have a member even though we have 1400 named lakes. So if you want a fiscal conservative to work on better Lake County input on Lakes to St. John's as well as groundwater, vote for Mullins. (Expanded Aug. 22).
State Committeeman - Republican Party - Doug Duerr or Ralph Smith. It is really rare for more than one candidate for this internal Republican party position, but there are three candidates this election, so it is on the ballot since the Republicans are a registered party. I know all three candidates, and Duerr probably has the most initiative (and also trains people in gun skills), but Ralph Smith is the most outspoken on his radio show. Randy L. Van Alstine is the appointed incumbent who works for Bob McKee, County Tax Collector. As such, Van Alstine won't make waves and is really continuing his volunteership in the party. Any of them will be fine since this is a liasion position between the local County Party and the Florida Republican Party (RPOF). Both Duerr and Smith are action oriented and focused on grass roots, not establishment, changes to the Republican Party.
State Committeewoman - Republican Party - This is a tossup. I know both candidates. Patricia Sullivan is the incumbent and on the Lake County Republican Board. Her daughter is Florida Rep. Jennifer Sullivan. Patricia was co-founder of the North Lake Tea Party, and instrumental in the early formation of the Tea Party Network, comprised of 70+ Florida local Tea Party groups. She has her own Wikipedia page (which needs updating) and is now is heavily involved in a national program called TeenPact which trains students in conservative political activities and the US Constitution. Elise A. Dennison, the other candidate, is Mayor of Leesburg and has been instrumental in turning them around. She has really HEAVY corporate contract and construction background, and managed huge construction contracts (not the work, but contract compliance) for major firms. So, we have the grassroots activist vs the high end business and municipal re-organizer. You decide who you like.
Lake County Court Judge - Group 2 - Brian Welke. This "non-partisan County Court" Judge position will replace retiring Judge Donna Miller, known for her Lake County TV show of court proceedings.
The five candidates, according to one source, are all Republicans, and all are experienced, local attorneys with various followings of friends, associations, etc. Judge candidates are not allowed to answer many questions, like "What would you do to improve the Lake County court system?", so many groups don't even have forums for them. It is very frustrating to find out anything about Judges or how they view issues. The Court leaders will tell you Judges must be impartial and follow the law, so they should not use any bias in deciding cases except to apply the existing law. I support Brian Welke because I know him better than the others through a pro bono issue I worked on for FiscalRangers.com, and he works on personal cases which is the experience needed for this Court Judge position. I have a video of all five candidates at a forum talking and the link will be added here soon.
Two or three candidates make a big deal about their experience in criminal trials thus they should get your vote. However, this is a COUNTY Judgeship, also known as the "People's Court", and the Judges are expected to handle small claims and other cases, NOT major criminal cases. CIRCUIT Judges handle criminal cases, not this County Court position. Thus if a candidate says you should vote for them due to their criminal case experience, they are flim flamming you (in my opinion)/ If you have some time, read this Florida BAR Guide to Selecting a Judge from 2012.
The Florida BAR Guide to selecting a Judge says:
"County court judges hear only criminal misdemeanors, which consist of crimes that have a possible sentence of less than one year in jail, and civil cases in which the amount in dispute is $15,000 or less."
"13. What makes someone a “good” judge? Incumbent judges will say they have more experience “judging” than their challengers. However, what else should be taken into account in deciding who will be a better judge? Judges must display impartiality and an understanding of the law. All judges may deal with cases that are either civil or criminal in nature. Knowledge in one particular area is not more important than the other. Judges should be selected based on their legal abilities, temperament and commitment to follow the law and decide cases impartially."
Lake County School Board: My comments about selecting a Lake County School Board member.
- We have too many Board members who are "concerned parents and former teachers" who have no clue about setting management standards for for a $500-million, 5,000 employee organization.
- We cannot keep electing teacher union favored teacher candidates rather than skilled managers.
- These are non-partisan positions but we need to stop electing Democrats who don't act on preventing known abuses in Common Core or who favor union positions over demanding performance metrics and tracking to ensure kids graduate with the ability to read and write and get a job or career.
- We need Board members with education and management skills to stand up to the educated administrators, demand measurable performance criteria and reporting and select a Superintendent who also understands those skills.
- We need to stop electing officials who have young children and/or work for an employer where they don't have authority to take time off to work on school board issues. A clear example is incumbent Stephanie Luke, who constantly misses Board meetings and workshops "due to work commitments" or perhaps to deal with three young children. Several times, the School Board has had to postpone important decisions because Luke was absent. I know parents will rebel against this statement, but parents of young kids or those in non-flexible jobs should not be on the Board of this important agency.
- If you want basic background on the candidates, here is an overview of them from the Lake Sentinel.
School Board Member Dist. 2 - Pernell Mitchell. All three major candidates have skills that could benefit the School District. Pernell has significant experience in the Leesburg black community, is a pastor, a former Sheriff Deputy, parent and frequently is active in setting behavior standards for the African -American community kids. Pernell owns his own businesses, so can make a flexible schedule. It is time we had a diverse candidate like Pernell on the School Board to provide direction for students in low income areas.
Opponent Kristi Burns has a Doctorate (GOOD), and 4 kids. She is very intelligent, was very active in the single issue of expanded recess for kids, but no business experience, only technical expertise. Burns is supported by lots of moms.
Opponent Sandi Moore is the Executive Officer of the Leesburg Chamber of Commerce. Will she be able to take time off to represent all of Lake County students and actions? She has been active in Leesburg community groups including education and is supported by that community.
School Board Member Dist. 4 - Lou Buigas. There are four candidates, but Lou Buigas is a retired homebuilder, owns a retail business in Tavares (Hoity Toity Mercantile) and shows up at many School Board AND Tavares City Council meetings. She has a binder full of analysis of school operations metrics and has talked to many School managers about MANAGING operations. We need her management and business expertise.
James Myers is a local attorney with lots of community involvement in the Education Foundation and other programs, but no sound large organization budget or policy expertise. He is favored by some as being the "most conservative", so I think he will be a good alternate choice in the future or if Buigas doesn't win. He is kind of like a young Larry Metz, has many local supporters, and we know how well Metz turned out.
The other opponents don't come close. Joan Rintelman is very nice retired teacher of soft skill areas, a Teacher Union supported candidate and a registered Democrat. Sandy Gamble works at the school district in a support position, is well known in Tavares politics, but does not have the education or management expertise for this level position.
There you have it. I may add updates as I get more info.
You can see videos of just about all these candidates on my "FiscalRangersFlorida" YouTube channel HERE.
If this is helpful, share it with friends in Lake County, Like my FiscalRangers Facebook page and subscribe to my YouTube channel FiscalRangersFlorida.
If you are still in Lake County, but I didn't cover candidates in your area, let me know. I won't cover city elections or special districts except water.
If you want more information on the candidates, CLICK HERE for the Orlando Sentinel voting guide. Keep in mind they are liberals and this blog is conservative.