Jamie Wrye is outfunded, unknown and a Johnny-come-lately to the District 4 commission race.
But he's very funny, and very tall. While it may not secure him the win against state Rep. Dave Russell, Wrye's jocund foray into politics promises to liven up a quiet race.
"A very affable individual," Russell agreed.
Wrye's quick humor won over yawning observers at a Hernando Beach forum this summer. Asked if he had an energy plan, he quipped, "Well, I try and eat right."
Hilarity aside, Wrye manages a detailed command of issues like property taxes, insurance and growth. But his quick study may not be enough to offset Russell's electoral advantages.
Russell, R-Brooksville, owns a pool store in Spring Hill and served two terms in the Florida Legislature. He's been chairman of the House transportation committee and the infrastructure council, positions that helped him win money for the county's ailing roads.
"Having someone who's been on the inside at that level certainly is going to help matters," Russell said.
Russell has also raised more than four times as much money as Wrye, an advantage compounded by Wrye's late entry into the race. Wrye declared his bid in late June, after anti-Hickory Hill activist Sindra Ridge abruptly dropped out.
Wrye sees Russell's brimming campaign coffers as a liability. Most of the money comes from special interests - sugar companies, builders, lobbyists - from outside the county, he pointed out.
It's difficult to draw a clear distinction between the positions of the two men. Both say developers should pay their own way. Both say that government can operate more efficiently, and be more accountable to the people.
Russell said he supported the county's recent one-half-mill tax cut, while Wrye criticized the Republican led commission for failing to fund the county's future infrastructure needs.
County commissioner, District 4
County commissioners are elected at large and serve four-year terms. District 4 covers the southern portion of the county (see map, Page 11). The annual salary is $55,463.
Jamie Wrye, 37, was born in Scotland and raised in England. Because his father is a U.S. citizen, he maintains dual citizenship. He moved to Florida in 1994. He is a marketing and admissions director at Forest Oaks Care Center. He and his wife live in Spring Hill. Assets: Home, automobile Liabilities: Mortgage, car payment, credit cards. Source of income: Salary.
Dave Russell, 51, was born in Birmingham, Ala., and moved to Florida when he was 16. He's owned a swimming pool business in Spring Hill for 25 years. He was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1998. He's a member of the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and the county Air Force Association. Term limits prevent Russell from running again for his Florida House seat. He is married, has two sons and lives in Brooksville. Assets: Home, automobiles, motorcycle, business assets and property, investments. Liabilities: Mortgage, car loans. Sources of income: Swimming pool business, legislative salary.
[Last modified November 3, 2006, 15:21:36]
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