By CATHERINE E. SHOICHET
Published October 25, 2006
In the District 2 County Commission race, a 16-year incumbent faces two challengers.
James Holder, who is running with no party affiliation, and Democrat Phillip Mulrain are both hoping to unseat Republican Gary Bartell.
For Bartell, who is finishing his fourth term as a commissioner, a top priority is managing growth in Citrus by protecting the county's natural resources.
His platform focuses on water quality issues that Bartell said have always played a key role in his work as a commissioner: increased conservation, removing failing septic systems from environmentally sensitive areas, requiring septic tank inspections at time of sale and encouraging the use of slow-release fertilizers.
He also advocates a conservative financial approach to government, including zero-based budgeting.
Bartell said he's a strong leader with a proven track record. But his opponents say it's time to put a fresh face on the dais.
Holder said county officials, including Bartell, haven't done enough long-range planning.
For example, Holder said, impact fees should have been increased gradually over time. Now consultants are recommending a dramatic increase that Holder said could cripple the county's economy.
As a commissioner, Holder said, he would stop that from happening. And the 38-year-old AmSouth vice president of business banking said he would use his years of business expertise to help the county navigate difficult financial situations. One idea the county should pursue, he said, is using low-interest loans from the federal government to pay for pricey projects.
When it comes to infrastructure projects, Holder said, he would encourage swift action to keep down costs and improve the quality of life in Citrus.
Mulrain said the county is confronting the same tough issues it faced when he first ran for County Commission in 1998. Bartell, he said, hasn't done enough to help the county's infrastructure.
Water, sewer and roads should be top priorities for the county, Mulrain said. Those are issues he said he understands firsthand after spending 13 months in Iraq working as a heavy equipment operator for Halliburton.
He supports reducing the county's gas tax. And he said his sound judgment, common sense and foresight make him the right man for the job.
Mulrain filed for bankruptcy in 2002, but he said that issue is not relevant to his campaign.
"I was unemployed, and the circumstances made that a good option," he said.
Gary Bartell, 61, of Homosassa is finishing his fourth term on the County Commission. He moved to Citrus County in 1988 from Gulfport in Pinellas County, where he ran his own construction company and restored antique automobiles. He also served two terms on the Gulfport City Council, from 1984 to 1988. The Cleveland native grew up in Sarasota. He has a wife and four children. Assets: Cash, house, land, vehicles, boats. Liabilities: Mortgage. Source of income: Commission salary.
No party affiliation
James Holder, 38, was born in Hollywood, Fla., and lives in Inverness. He graduated from Hernando High School in 1986 and went on to study at Pasco-Hernando Community College and Central Florida Community College. After working in advertising for several companies, Holder became branch manager at the Inverness AmSouth bank in 2003. Now he is the vice president of business banking there. Holder is a past president of the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce and vice president of the Economic Development Council. He has a wife and two children. Assets: Cash, vehicles, home. Liabilities: Mortgage, loan, credit card. Source of income: Salary from AmSouth Bank.
Phillip Mulrain, 60, is a Lecanto resident making his third run for the Citrus County Commission. He managed the Colonial Steak Pit from 1984 to 1992, as well as the Elegante Pelican Lounge between 1993 and 1994. Since then, he has dabbled in other jobs and does periodic handyman work. He spent the past 13 months working in Iraq as a heavy equipment operator and labor foreman for Halliburton. The Massachusetts native served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1970 and was active in the Air Force Reserve from 1973 to 1979. He worked for several computer companies before moving to Lecanto in 1983. He is divorced and has no children. Assets: Home, property, vehicle. Liabilities: Mortgage. Source of income: Salary from Halliburton.
County commissioner, District 2
A board of five commissioners debates policy and passes county ordinances. District 2 includes Homosassa, Chassahowitzka and other unincorporated areas in the southwest corner of the county. 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.
[Last modified November 3, 2006, 15:28:06]
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