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Inverness City Council Election

SEAT 5: Marc L. Wigmore questions the council's priorities; Robert E. Plaisted voices pride in its work.

By SUZANNAH GONZALES
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

INVERNESS -- A couple years ago, at the Inverness Place Bed and Breakfast that Marc L. Wigmore runs with his wife, guests started asking why their water was yellow.

Before that, Wigmore had "always minded my own business, did my own thing."

But he started asking questions and talking to neighbors. And now, with a little more time on his hands, he's getting even more involved.

In his first political run, Wigmore is challenging incumbent Robert E. Plaisted for City Council Seat 5, a post Plaisted has held since 1999.

Along with water quality, Wigmore, 53, is concerned about where the council's priorities are. He's not convinced a new city hall is what money should be spent on now.

Plaisted, on the other hand, would like to see the construction of city hall completed. He would like to keep his council seat and continue working on the redevelopment of downtown and the city's parks.

Plaisted further would like to encourage beautification efforts and bring more culture and arts into the city.

In the police salary negotiations, Wigmore said the public was shown that management can't get along with its employees. If he's elected, he said he would conduct a survey of his own to determine if the city's police officers are underpaid.

Plaisted, a property manager, thinks management handled the negotiations well and asserts that the city's police officers are compensated fairly. Some officers have been on the force for a long time, and the contract was ratified with no one resigning, he noted.

Both candidates are in favor of keeping the city's police department. And they agree the city's utilities should be expanded.

A self-employed accountant and former executive vice president and chief financial officer of ABC Liquors Inc. in Orlando, Wigmore wants to work toward fair taxation.

Even though Inverness residents already pay for police services by the Inverness department, for example, residents are also being charged for some of the same services by the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

"It's wrong," Wigmore said. "It's just wrong."

He suggested creating a task force and bringing together city and county officials to address the problem.

Discussion is necessary, Wigmore said. He has noticed that not much of it goes on during council meetings. He wondered: "Where in the world are they getting the benefit of each other's knowledge?"

"I think it goes to, who's leading the parade?" Wigmore said. It appears City Manager Frank DiGiovanni leads the council, and not the other way around, he said.

"I'm running because everyone is basically doing the same thing over there." He believes he can add a different perspective.

Plaisted defended DiGiovanni, explaining that he researches issues well and demands performance. Plaisted insists he is not merely a rubber-stamper. A lot of work is done throughout the week, he said. In addition to reading DiGiovanni's research on council meeting agenda items, Plaisted said he conducts Internet research and talks to people involved.

Plaisted did admit to being too quiet during meetings. "I was told a long time ago, if you don't have anything profound to say, don't say it," he said. And don't repeat things already said, he added.

Despite his quietness, Plaisted said he has accomplished a lot on the council. Among his achievements, Plaisted includes keeping the county seat in Inverness, obtaining grants and lowering taxes.

"I'm really proud to sit on that council," Plaisted said. "I'm really proud of that council."

-- Suzannah Gonzales can be reached at 860-7312 or sgonzales@sptimes.com.

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