POLITICAL NOVICES CONTEND: None of the three candidates for Seat 3 have held elected office before. All three say they have a plan to better the city.
By DUANE BOURNE
Published October 26, 2004
The race for Seat 3 on the Brooksville City Council features three men without significant political experience.
A businessman, an educator and a civic leader are taking aim at the seat held by Joe Bernardini, who decided against seeking re-election, citing an antagonistic relationship with some City Council members.
Frankie Burnett, president of the local chapter of the NAACP and co-founder of the Democratic Black Caucus of Hernando County, is the only candidate that has run for the City Council before.
In 2002, Burnett lost to Ernie Wever by 7 percentage points. He said he considered it a strong showing and vowed to run again.
In challenging business owner Robert Osmond and teacher Brent Gaustad, Burnett says he has what they don't - a vision for the residents of Brooksville.
"I am committed to being the voice for the people, by the people and for the people," he said. "I am committed to putting people over politics. To make a long story short, I want to bring a vision."
Burnett supports growth in the city and downtown revitalization, but said he would also like to set in place a plan for improving neighborhoods throughout the community.
He said he also wants to explore ways to encourage businesses to move into the city to bring jobs and build the city's tax base.
Gaustad, too, said his campaign is focused on improving the community. More important, however, is maintaining its ideals, he said.
"We could grow and still keep our hometown values," he said.
As a teacher, he said he has been in Hernando County long enough, since 1988, that he understands what city residents want.
In 1996, Gaustad ran unsuccessfully for Hernando County School Board, but said he took away valuable lessons about government.
Gaustad stressed the importance of lowering the surcharge the city tacked onto residents' electric bills in order to lessen the financial burden on low-income families. He said he also wants to find ways for non-revenue producing parts of the budget, such as the Jerome Brown Community Center and the Quarry Golf Course, to bolster income.
In essence, he says, he wants the city to grow properly.
"I want to be fiscally responsible," Gaustad said. "(Taxpayers) should bear the brunt of this growth as little as possible."
It's a message echoed by Osmond, owner of Osmond Printing Inc. in Brooksville.
He said he believes in a cautious approach to development, and that developers should pay their share of the costs and not merely pocket millions of dollars on the backs of taxpayers.
Osmond said the downtown revitalization project and development in and around the city has been good, but that some areas, including south Brooksville, have been missed.
"If you are going to make the blocks around the courthouse peachy cute, just look several blocks down and it is a different picture," he said.
As a businessman, Osmond said he is also running for Seat 3 because of his vested interests in the city. He said he's concerned about policies that affect both businesses and families.
"The decisions made today will affect me and my family for years to come," he said.
FRANKIE BURNETT, 49, works part time for a fashion company called Fash-u-nation. A lifelong resident of Brooksville, he graduated from Hernando High School and attended the University of Florida, but did not obtain a degree. Burnett is currently attending the University of Phoenix campus in Tampa, studying business management. He is separated from his wife and is the father of four children. He is president of the Hernando County chapter of the NAACP, a member of the board of the Democratic Black Caucus of Hernando County, a member of the Kennedy Park Little League Association board and rehab chairman and board member of Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County. He is a longtime member of Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. ASSETS: none. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCE OF INCOME: part-time job.
BRENT GAUSTAD, 42, is a psychology and history teacher at Hernando High School. He also coaches girls golf and boys track. A native of Minnesota, Gaustad graduated with a bachelor's degree from Winona State University. He is pursuing a master's degree from Saint Leo University. He is married and has three children. ASSETS: home. LIABILITIES: mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary from teaching position at Hernando High. E-MAIL:email@example.com
ROBERT OSMOND, 34, is the owner of Osmond Printing Inc. in Brooksville. Born in New Jersey, he has lived in the city since completing an eight-year stint in the Navy and Marine Corps. Osmond is currently enrolled at Pasco-Hernando Community College, studying business administration. Osmond is divorced and the father of two children. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville and the Kiwanis Club Foundation. ASSETS: business. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCES OF INCOME: business.
Brooksville City Council members serve four-year terms and set policy and approve budgets for the city. Though they run for specific seats, council members are elected at large by all city voters. They receive $5,400 per year for serving on the council - $6,000 if their colleagues name them vice mayor and $7,200 as mayor.