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    Buby, Welch for commissioner

    © St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000

    Pinellas County Commission, District 6

    The contest for the Pinellas County Commission District 6 seat appears to be a mismatch. Republican John Morroni has much more money to spend on the campaign than Democrat Dave Buby. Morroni is an experienced politician; Buby a retired doctor making his first run for office. Yet voters will be missing an opportunity if they don't pay attention to Buby's low-key campaign.

    Buby, 62, offers life experience and genuine concern for the community that would be valuable assets to the new seven-member commission, which will easily fill its quota of politicians. Buby, who has been tireless in volunteering for county boards, would add a breadth of knowledge and interests that is otherwise missing.

    For example, from the viewpoint of a number of boards dealing with health problems in the county, Buby has seen that the County Commission pays too little attention to those issues. Many county residents without health insurance seek non-emergency treatment for themselves or their children at hospital emergency rooms, which burdens some facilities that have financial problems. The County Commission should help develop out-patient care programs that give the appropriate level of treatment to those patients and relieve pressure on the emergency rooms, Buby said.

    He has other ideas that would push the commission beyond the status quo, such as developing a 311 number for non-emergency law enforcement calls. Neighborhood Crime Watch groups could use such a system to aid police with information while not tying up 911 emergency services.

    Morroni, 45, who picked this race after political job shopping when term limits made him give up his Florida House seat, means well but has no fresh ideas.

    On transportation, for example, Morroni talks about spending more to fix traffic problems, but he focuses on stopgap measures, such as signal timing and better street signs. That is hardly the kind of thinking that will fix Pinellas County's most intractable problems.

    Voters changed the makeup of the County Commission (adding two commissioners and electing four from single-member districts) to open debate and to encourage a new breed of candidate, someone with fresh ideas who has been active in the community but not necessarily a political professional. Buby is such a candidate, and he deserves voter consideration.

    The Times recommends Dave Buby.

    Opportunity to reply

    The Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to reply. Candidates in the races discussed today should send in their replies no later than 5 p.m. Monday to: Philip Gailey, editor of editorials, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. (E-mail:; Fax: 893-8675). Replies are limited to 250 words.

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