WILL VAN SANT
AGGRESSIVE GROWTH MANAGEMENT: Republican Jeff Stabins and Democrat Bill Fagan hold similar ideas about development in Hernando.
The District 1 Hernando County Commission race features a self-described moderate Republican, Jeff Stabins, against a self-described fiscal conservative Democrat, Bill Fagan.
Stabins, a former state representative, can point to his considerable political experience, while Fagan contends his decades as an area businessman give him an edge. The candidates' campaign themes often echo one another, with both arguing that more needs to be done to manage growth in Hernando.
Fagan thinks large commercial and residential developers are not being required to pay for an adequate share of the infrastructure their projects require. They must be forced to offset more of the cost for roads, schools and utility services so the burden does not fall on taxpayers, he argues.
Fagan advocates stiff impact fees and tougher enforcement of planning guidelines, and he said he is willing to champion ordinances that will force large developers to pay their fair share.
He also stresses the need to protect the environment. Storm runoff is fouling waterways with fertilizers and other pollutants, endangering drinking water supplies, Fagan said. Development is also encroaching on wildlife habitat, he said, and he advocates greater restraint when it comes to developing U.S. 19 north of State Road 50.
While he has never held office, his experience in business, Fagan said, means he has the management and money sense to manage a county government with hundreds of employees and a budget of more than $300-million.
Fagan is sensitive to the charge that he has come out of nowhere, and points out that he and his wife decided to settle in Hernando, bought property here and provide employment to residents.
"I have made an investment here in Hernando County," he said. "I have not taken from this community, I have given to this community, and I am just asking the voters to give me a chance to prove what I can do."
Stabins, who was the District 44 state representative from 1992 until 1998, is also a strong advocate of more aggressive growth management.
Like Fagan, he is an advocate of stiff impact fees and tougher development ordinances. If elected, Stabins said, he plans to call a growth summit of political, business and civic leaders to craft a broader, more effective strategy to manage growth.
To address the development pressure now facing Hernando, Stabins argues a greater level of cooperation is needed between the county, Brooksville and the School Board. Such a joint effort is required if, for example, a rule that would force developers to donate land for schools is to be created, he said.
Though opposed to the mandatory recycling program in Spring Hill, which Fagan supports, Stabins is a recycling advocate. Stabins said, if elected, he would seek to triple the number of dropoff bins across Hernando and involve businesses and schools in a countywide recycling effort.
Both candidates have expressed admiration for one another, but Fagan said he is bothered by Stabins' call for a growth summit. He worries that it will lead to the hiring of consultants and that it's a way to avoid having to make tough, independent choices as an elected official.
Stabins rejects the criticism.
"Action without knowledge is not necessarily a good thing," he said. "The idea of the summit is to bring people together at no real expense to the taxpayers to see how we could better grow as a community. I don't really know how anybody could oppose this."
JEFF STABINS, 44, was born in Watertown, N.Y. He moved to Hernando from New York in 1987. Stabins is now a teacher of at-risk students for the county school system. He lives north of Weeki Wachee and is in the process of moving to Spring Hill. He ran for School Board in 1990 but lost in the general election. Stabins was District 44 state representative from 1992 to 1998. He lost the Republican primary that year to sitting state Rep. David Russell. Stabins has a bachelor's degree in history and political science from the State University of New York at Albany. He received a master's degree in education from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. ASSETS: home, retirement account. LIABILITIES: credit union loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary.
BILL FAGAN, 59, was born in Pittsburgh. He was raised in Illinois and moved to Hernando from St. Pete Beach in 1997. He lives in Spring Hill, is married and has five adult children, two biological and three by marriage. Fagan is owner of two area businesses, Patriot Lending Services and Waste Away Systems. He is listed in state records as the registered agent for Sweet Secretions Inc. He is a former president of the Spring Hill Civic Association. This is his first run for public office. Fagan is a graduate of Glenbard East High School in Lombard, Ill. He attended Elmhurst College and St. Procopius College in Illinois but did not receive a degree. ASSETS: home, commercial building, businesses. LIABILITIES: mortgages, vehicle loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: business revenue.
County commissioners are elected to four-year terms by the county at large but must live in the district they serve. Commissioners adopt ordinances governing the county and the budget. Commissioners are paid $51,058 a year.