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HERNANDO COMM 5

GROWTH PLAN AHEAD: Both Republican Janey Baldwin and Democrat Chris Kingsley would seek to shepherd through a strategic county growth plan.

WILL VAN SANT
Published October 26, 2004

The District 5 County Commission race pits former Democratic board member Chris Kingsley against Republican Janey Baldwin, who is making a third bid for a commission seat. Richard A. Power, a retired Florida native, is in the race as a write-in candidate.

Over the past 15 years, Janey Baldwin has been a frequent speaker at commission meetings and has a long record of civic involvement. She said the current commission lacks leadership, and, as a result, shortsighted, costly decisions are made.

If elected, Baldwin said, she would seek to develop a strategic growth plan for the county with a 20-year horizon. To ensure it has teeth, the plan would be backed by ordinances.

Baldwin is a vocal critic of the legal department, which has added attorneys in the last five years and increased spending by 79 percent. The figure roughly matches the increase in overall county spending during the same period.

Board members are too driven by private agendas, Baldwin said, and lack the experience and curiosity to explore policy solutions that are effective and fiscally prudent. For instance, the $5-million emergency operations center being built in Brooksville, Baldwin said, is too extravagant.

"I know what to do when I get there," Baldwin said. "I have served on many boards, many committees. I have worked in private business. I won't be on a learning curve."

Former one-term Commissioner Chris Kingsley said there are several initiatives that he helped start while in office that he would like to see completed. They include a strategic growth plan and a water resource assessment, he said.

If elected, Kingsley said, he would curtail the number of exemptions made to the county's comprehensive plan and renew focus on economic development. Also, given the ballooning value of private property in Hernando, Kingsley said he would like to explore tax cuts.

For reasons that are not completely clear to him, Kingsley said, there is a cynicism about county government that did not exist when he was in office. To combat the skeptics, he said, reason must be brought back to the board and facts better explained to the public.

For example, county spending is not out of control, as some allege, Kingsley said. The truth, he said, is that many projects that are critical investments in the county's future are needed, he said.

When Kingsley, who sometimes took tough stands against developers, was defeated in 2002, some observers pointed to arrogance and an inability to listen. Kingsley said he has worked to be more open to the views of others.

"What it all comes down to is passion," he said. "And sometimes when you have passion, it looks like you have tunnel vision."

THE CANDIDATES

REPUBLICAN

JANEY BALDWIN , 75, was born in St. Louis. She came to Florida in 1986. She is a member of United Communities of Hernando County, an associate member of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and belongs to the Salvation Army Advisory Board, among other groups. Baldwin is married and has a daughter and son. Before marrying and raising her children, she worked in a child guidance clinic and as an airline flight attendant. She was elected an alderman for St. Louis County in 1982 and served a two-year term. In 1992, Baldwin ran for County Commission in District 1 and lost in the primary. She ran again in District 1 in 2000 and lost in the general election. Baldwin graduated from St. Margaret's High School in St. Louis and attended St. Louis University, but did not get a degree. She lives in Brooksville. ASSETS: home, bank accounts, treasury bonds. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCES OF INCOME: bank accounts and bond revenue.

DEMOCRAT

CHRISTOPHER A. KINGSLEY, 52, was born in Spokane, Wash. He moved to Florida in 1976 and to Spring Hill in 1991. He is divorced and has a daughter. Kingsley was elected to the County Commission in 1998 and lost his seat to Robert Schenck in 2002. He served in the Coast Guard from 1970 to 1974 and worked for the Clearwater Fire Department from 1977 to 1986. He now teaches at Nature Coast Technical High School. Kingsley graduated from Lakeland High School in Rathdrum, Idaho. He completed his undergraduate degree at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and is a certified teacher in Florida. Kingsley lives in Ridge Manor West. ASSETS: homes, savings. LIABILITIES: mortgages, vehicle loan. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary, pension.

THE JOB

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 to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its residents. Commissioners are paid $51,058 a year.

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