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Sarasota Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 10 years ago

Our View: We recommend


If you haven’t already made your election selections or turned in your absentee or early-voting ballot for Tuesday’s primary election, herewith we present a few thoughts that might help you decide which bubble to color on your ballot.

As always, here is our warning: About 98% of the time, if not more often, our recommendations favor the candidates who ascribe to the Founding Fathers’ principles of more freedom for the individual and strict limits on government intervention. In that vein:

Republican Party
U.S. Senate — It’s remarkable how many times Florida’s senior U.S. senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, has been able to avoid running against a powerhouse Republican candidate.

In Nelson’s last race in 2006, he whipped, unfortunately, Katherine Harris, winning 60% of the vote. And that for a candidate whom Florida Trend magazine aptly dubbed “the empty suit” when Nelson ran for governor many moons ago.

So here the Republicans are again, this time with Connie Mack IV, son of one of Florida’s all-time great conservatives, his father, Sen. Connie Mack III.

Mack IV isn’t his father to be sure. Nonetheless, the apple pretty much fell underneath the father’s philosophical tree. We especially like his proposal to reduce the national debt. And for his eight years in Congress, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste in Washington, D.C., have given Mack a Lifetime Rating of “Hero” for fiscal conservatism.

If Republicans hope to have any chance at defeating Nelson, Mack IV should be the Republicans’ contender. Recommendation: Connie Mack IV

Supervisor of Elections — All was well until outgoing Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton learned from a state Supreme Court ruling that he had reached his term limits and could not run for re-election. And then he tipped the cart. He decided to challenge 12-year incumbent Kathy Dent.

Sure, 12 years is a long time to hold the same elective office. But the supervisor’s job isn’t quite like being in a political position, as has Thaxton, who also has held the same elected job for 12 years. Dent’s job is administration, management and process; Thaxton’s is policy making.

Two markedly different skill sets.

Most Sarasotans like Thaxton; he has done an admirable, commendable job as a county commissioner; overall a good leader for Sarasota County.

Dent, likewise, has performed competently; to be sure, she has accumulated her share of “dents” over the years — many not of her own making.

When you look at the election landscape, though, the choice appears as so: Stick with the long-time incumbent who has become well-versed in the increasingly technical and complicated supervisor’s job, whatever minor shortcomings there may be. Or bet on the long-time politician who hasn’t managed the day-to-day activities of a $4 million operation with 28 employees and hundreds of volunteers.

As is custom in elections, you are voting on the incumbent’s performance. In this instance, in spite of all of Thaxton’s attributes, Dent has not voted herself out of a job. Thaxton has another, better calling, and he will find it. Recommendation: Dent.

County Commissioner/District 5 — This is to fill the seat Jon Thaxton is vacating — in a district that is primarily the southwest quadrant of the county, south of Blackburn Point Road. It’s a countywide vote.

The Republican establishment is backing Charles Hines, a business lawyer with the respected Venice law firm of Kanetsky Moore & DeBoer. He is solid, and based on his experience and involvement in the community, would and should be an effective county commissioner.

His opponent, Randy McClendon, a Realtor, on the other hand, speaks our language. He’s a tea party advocate. “I also want to see individual liberty and free-market capitalism celebrated. I want both the citizens and the governmental employees of those citizens to have a greater understanding and appreciation for the appropriate role of government,” McClendon says.

If you like sure and safe, Hines is your man. But if you want someone to challenge the status quo from a Founding Fathers’ perspective, McClendon is your man. Recommendation: McClendon, but Hines would be fine.

Charter Review Board — The key for this office is to have people without political agendas who want to try to set public policy via charter changes. In that vein, the following five candidates appear to be most fit for these unpaid positions. Recommendations: District 1 — Anthony “Tony” Sawyer; District 2 — Donna Barcomb; District 3 — Fred Tower III; District 4 — Mark Hawkins; District 5 — John J. Fellin

Hospital Board/At Large 2 — One of the candidates dropped out of the race. Recommendation: incumbent Richard Donegan.

Democratic Party
U.S. Senate — For Democrats, this isn’t a race. Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson is their guy. We’ve never been a fan of his spend, spend, spend voting. But his opponent doesn’t stand a chance.


Republican Party
U.S. Senate — Connie Mack


— Kathy Dent

— Randy McLendon


District 1 — Anthony “Tony” Sawyer;
District 2 — Donna Barcomb
District 3 — Fred Tower
District 4 — Mark Hawkins
District 5 — John J. Fellin

— Richard Donegan


SARASOTA — Bob Waechter, Casey Pilon, Jack Black, John Brill, Burton Rosenfield, Richard Stusek, Christian Ziegler

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