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Keep Robinson, Kingsley on the job


© St. Petersburg Times
published October 27, 2002


An abrasive advertising campaign by the Hernando County Republican Party alleges that the incumbent county commissioners up for re-election this year are "The Weakest Link." From being big spenders, to ignoring the needs of residents, to stunting economic growth, to raising taxes, the ads blame Democrats Chris Kingsley and Nancy Robinson for just about everything but the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Many of the allegations in the ads, which were approved by candidates Rose Rocco and Richard Schenck, are imprecise and misleading, and most voters will readily recognize that. But the premise of the Republicans' strategy is very revealing because it relies solely on attacking the Democrats, instead of touting the merits of the GOP candidates.

That should tell voters all they need to know about this year's commission races. Neither of the challengers can overcome the incumbents' knowledge, vision or experience. Accordingly, voters should grant Kingsley and Robinson four more years in office so they may continue being sensible, responsible and resourceful policymakers.

Putting partisanship aside, these commissioners are, in fact, strong links to the county's future.

District 2, Hannah M. 'Nancy' Robinson

By far, Robinson is the dean of the commissioners, having served on the board 10 years, which is six more than any other commissioner. She has achieved such longevity by being focused, informed and judicious.

Her tenure has been shared with some colorful commissioners, many of whom were better at grandstanding and playing politics than they were at serving the public and getting re-elected. Robinson has endured where others have not because of her temperament, sense of fairness and ability to gauge public opinion.

Robinson, along with Kingsley and former Commissioner Paul Sullivan, was one of the chief architects of the county's comprehensive road repaving plan. She also has steered much of the discussion regarding taxpayers' interest in Regional Healthcare Inc., the company that operates Brooksville Regional and Spring Hill Regional hospitals.

Some of the ideas Robinson has advocated for years are coming to fruition now, including the county's first transit system and a curbside recycling program in Spring Hill. She also has been a key player in safeguarding the county's water resources, and she's been a reliable advocate for veterans. In addition, her several yearlong stints as chairwoman of the commission have showcased her talents as a mediator and organizer.

Robinson is being challenged by Rose Rocco, a community activist who is best known for her involvement with several homeowners' associations and the chamber of commerce. Rocco deserves credit for being a tireless volunteer and for her willingness to assume a position of increased public service. However, she does not make a compelling argument to turn Robinson out of office.

Rocco is vague about how she could do a better job, and her biggest criticism of Robinson is that she is not a leader. Robinson has her faults, and sometimes straddling the fence on an issue too long is one of them, but that speaks more to an abundance of caution than it does a paucity of leadership.

Robinson has served with sincerity and distinction for a decade. Voters should be eager to keep her in the District 2 commission seat.

District 4, Chris Kingsley

Chris Kingsley is seeking his second term on the commission. His first two years on the commission were largely unremarkable, except for his ardent support of the road repaving plan and the implementation of air quality standards that accompanied the construction of a cement plant north of Brooksville.

But the next two years were a watershed for Kingsley. He championed several farsighted proposals, including:

A landscaping ordinance that will beautify commercial buildings and eventually should increase property values.

The ongoing consolidation of emergency services.

Bringing the county's economic development office back under control of the commission.

An unsuccessful proposed law that would have cut down invasive lighting, especially that which comes from so-called "big-box" stores.

Kingsley is attuned to the need for the commission to manage its growth trends more effectively. He understands the need to be more selective about what development occurs and to be more demanding about what developers must provide.

The challenger in this race is Robert Schenck, a school teacher who is making his first foray into politics. Schenck is a sincere, energetic candidate with a modest platform and a healthy desire to serve the public. But he simply cannot match the incumbent's insight and experience.

Kingsley is the obvious choice for the District 4 commission seat.

Opportunity to reply

Candidates who are not recommended by the Times are invited to respond. Replies are limited to approximately 250 words and must be received no later than 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29. Deliver to 161 E. Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL, 34601, fax to 754-6133, or send by e-mail to hernando@sptimes.com.

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