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A Times Editorial

Buby, Welch for commissioner

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 12, 2000

Pinellas County Commission, District Pinellas County Commission, District 7

In the race between Republican Brent Fisher and Democrat Ken Welch for the newly-created District 7 Pinellas County Commission seat, voters will have a choice between two capable candidates who have been involved in their community. But they will also find that one of the candidates, Welch, has a stronger grasp of the complex issues the commission faces.

Both men say they have spent considerable time talking to residents. Both think the commission should conduct a nationwide search for the next county administrator, and both take a cautious, informed stance on water issues, identifying the need to expand Pinellas' reclaimed water sources.

Welch, 35, is a St. Petersburg native whose father, David, was a progressive and business-minded voice for many years on the St. Petersburg City Council. The younger Welch correctly identifies water, transportation and economic development as the top three priorities facing Pinellas commissioners. The focus on economic development is especially critical since the winner will represent some of the county's poorest neighborhoods. The district is comprised of the south half of St. Petersburg, Kenneth City, Gulfport and South Pasadena.

Welch also realizes the need for a new county administrator to be a skilled manager of transportation concerns. And as a member of St. Petersburg Junior College's board of trustees, Welch is uniquely qualified to help midwife the county's growing need for more options in higher education.

The relationships Welch has built in that countywide effort and across party lines make him well prepared to tackle county problems. Fisher's experience, meanwhile, comes mostly from working with St. Petersburg's neighborhood associations, and we encourage him to expand his civic involvement.

Though both candidates are qualified to serve on the county commission, Welch would bring a broader horizon of experience and community involvement. The Times strongly recommends Ken Welch.

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