By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published October 25, 2006
Three candidates are vying for an open seat in the County Commission District 4 race.
None has held elected office before. But Democrat Bernie Leven, Republican John Thrumston and Steve Hasel, who is running with no party affiliation, all said they have what it takes to help lead Citrus County.
The incumbent, Republican Jim Fowler, is not seeking another term.
Hasel is registered as a Republican but he said as a no-party candidate, he will keep partisan politics and pressure from special interests out of County Commission decisions.
He said several recent commission votes have shown that the county's residents have not been heard.
As a commissioner, he said, he would be open with constituents and hold regular town meetings.
He said he wants to bring a family YMCA to Citrus and help secure extra homestead exemption relief for the county's seniors.
And he said the county should do more to control growth by improving its comprehensive plan.
Leven said he wants to direct growth to the center of the county, away from the coastline and environmentally sensitive areas. He said officials should do more to preserve the natural resources and beauty of the county.
Leven, who runs a travel brokerage business and a corporate recruiting firm out of his Citrus Springs home, said the county should do more to attract small businesses and clean, light industry.
He also supports improving the county's infrastructure, obtaining more grants for affordable housing and attracting better health care to Citrus.
Leven defeated Jim Brunswick of Floral City in the Democratic primary, garnering 63.5 percent of the 8,611 votes cast.
He has said that the District 4 race will pit environmentalists against builders and developers. Leven said he is an environmentalist.
But Thrumston also said he wants to protect the county's natural resources.
Thrumston said he favors smart growth that pays for itself and adds to the county's tax base, while preserving natural resources.
He lists strategic planning and fiscal responsibility as top priorities for the county.
County departments should implement new purchasing policies and justify how they spend tax dollars through zero-based budgeting, Thrumston said.
Thrumston won the Republican primary with 48.9 percent of 11,235 votes cast in his favor, trouncing opponents Michael Smallridge and Richard "Dick" Callahan.
County commissioner, District 4
A board of five commissioners debates policy and passes county ordinances. District 4 includes Floral City, parts of Inverness and other unincorporated areas in the southeast corner of the county (see map, Page9). Commissioners must live in the district, but all commissioners are elected at large and make decisions for the entire county. They serve four-year terms and are paid $52,441.22 per year.
No party affiliation
John Stephen "Steve" Hasel, 55, was born in Champaign, Ill., and lives in Inverness. He graduated from Denison University in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in political science. He also did graduate work at Ohio University in journalism and education. Hasel worked as a journalist for the St. Petersburg Times for 29 years. In 2005, he received his licensed practical nursing certification from Withlacoochee Technical Institute. He works with patients as a nurse for Interim Healthcare. He is married with eight children. Assets: Home, property, retirement. Liabilities: Loans, mortgage, credit card. Sources of income: Retirement, salary.
Bernie Leven, 58, was born in Pittsburgh and lives in Citrus Springs. He graduated from Robert Morris University in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Leven runs a travel brokerage business and Hospitality Plus, a corporate recruiting firm, out of his home. He is divorced and has two children. Assets: Home, vehicles, boat, collectibles, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance. Liabilities: Mortgage, loans. Source of income: Business earnings.
John T. Thrumston II, 41, was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Floral City in 1999. He graduated from Tarpon Springs High School in 1983. He has owned an interior design company - previously J&K Upholstery and Window Treatments of Clearwater, now Home Stuff Interiors of Inverness - for 20 years. Thrumston is president of Citrus County Habitat for Humanity. He is married and has a 13-year-old son. Assets: Business, home, commercial property, life insurance, cars, boats. Liabilities: Mortgage, loans. Source of income: Business earnings.
[Last modified November 3, 2006, 15:08:38]
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