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Commission candidates go face to face on issues

By

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


Debates have long played a key role in American political life. In that spirit, the Pasco Times continues its tradition of offering candidates for public office a forum to question each other on matters they think are important to the voters. Today's installment is a debate between the County Commission District 1 candidates, Republican Ted Schrader and Democrat Charlotte Kiefer. They met Monday morning at the Times office in Port Richey.

Question

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, because I believe that the protection of our county's water supply is the most important issue we face today, I've worked to protect land from development, served as chairman of the Pasco County Soil and Water Conservation Board and currently serve as chairman of a statewide water advisory committee. In the area of water conservation, what experience or service, if any, do you have to offer the voters?

Answer

KIEFER: I don't have any experience of conserving water other than being a citizen. I've not served on any of the committees or anything that you have spoken of. I've ran businesses. I am concerned. I've had water problems myself, and I'm a quick learner and I work hard. I've not had the opportunity to serve on any of those boards.

Rebuttal

SCHRADER: Thank you, Miss Kiefer. As I mentioned, I have offered my leadership skills and time to serve on those particular boards at the statewide level, at the local level, serving as chairman of the Pasco County Soil and Water Conservation District, chairman of the statewide water advisory committee. I believe that I have the skills and the tools necessary and the knowledge necessary to lead this county into water conservation measures in the coming years.

Question

KIEFER: Okay, Mr. Schrader, do you feel that the tract of land you and your family bought in 1998 consisting of 790 acres as reported in the March 22, 1998, St. Petersburg Times, at what amounts to less than $5 per acre, an example of how you intend to conduct the affairs of Pasco County?

Answer

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, I'm glad that you asked that question because, first of all, let me just tell you that the negotiations that we entered into with the sellers of the property were extremely above board, everything was forthcoming to them. They understood totally the intentions of our actions to try to sell a water conservation easement or a conservation easement to the Southwest Florida Water Management District for the state. They fully understood. The state hired two independent appraisers, and they appraised the property at $1.8-million. The citizens of the state of Florida paid 50 percent of the fair market value on that particular piece of property. I think as a county commissioner, I'm going to look for programs such as conservation easements that ensure the protection of lands for water quality, water recharge area and conservation areas in the coming years. As a county commissioner, those are the programs I want to work on to try to protect the natural resources of Pasco County.

Rebuttal

KIEFER: Will you also do that with the 1,700 acres that sits off of Curley Road at 576 -- State Road 577. That's interesting to me. That's just my comment.

Question

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, both of us have been active in our community, and we have both had experience in running our own businesses. In the past month I've knocked on the doors of hundreds and hundreds of our residents, and they're more concerned about the real issues -- protecting our water supply, improving Pasco's transportation system and preserving our pristine lands. Specifically, what experience, if any, do you have in dealing with these three particular issues?

Answer

KIEFER: I also have knocked on a lot of doors and also have experienced highway 52 and 54 corridors for months now. Of course, you as a candidate in a previous elections have had four years' jump on me. But, in preparing for these committees and so forth that you are on, I didn't get into this till June 1.Like I said, I'm a fast learner, I ran three businesses, I'm very capable, and my concern is for what's best for Pasco County and its people.

Rebuttal

SCHRADER: I appreciate that, Miss Kiefer, and my concern is also for what's best in the interest of the citizens of Pasco County, but I did not get into this just recently. I've been president of the Pasco County Farm Bureau for 10 years, was appointed to the statewide water advisory committee three years ago, was a member of the Partners for a Better Florida, which is a statewide committee, nearly six years ago, served as a San Antonio city commissioner for six years. I think I have the leadership skills and the qualities necessary to lead Pasco County into the future.

Question

KIEFER: If you're so . . . Mr. Schrader, if you're so interested in preserving the environment, would you sell the 790 acres to the county for less than $5 per acre so that the taxpayers who paid for the development rights could also enjoy its beauty and win?

Answer

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, that piece of property is being protected from development, it had approval for 790 residential units to be developed on that particular piece of property. That piece of property can never ever be developed. It will serve as a water recharge area, conservation area, an area of pristine value. Again I state -- as I said before -- I will look and I will work hard to try to find areas such as this where it's in the best interest of the taxpayers to do what's right. In this particular instance, this piece of property will be protected from development and is a buffer to the adjoining well field.

Rebuttal

KIEFER: What the purpose, as I read and understood in the articles of the papers, is for hunting privileges for your family, if I'm not mistaken, and for a pine -- to set out pines and so forth, which I don't believe has been done. I just feel my personal thing is if we're going to be doing that, and the taxpayers' money being used, they should have some kind of benefits, too.

Question

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, recently the Pasco County Commission reached a settlement agreement to a legal challenge of the comprehensive plan. Do you feel that the current plan meets the needs of our county, and if so, how, and if not, why?

Answer

KIEFER: The comprehensive plan as I have been reading it and studying it is evasive in a lot of places. I think it was, basically, and no one has told me this, is strictly what I know on my own, is basically set up to kind of guide the development or developers in their direction on land uses and densities and so forth. There's a lot of things that needs to be outfit, I think changed in the comprehensive plan as it reads today, which I don't feel has been addressed in the past by the commissioners that are sitting on board now.

Rebuttal

SCHRADER: The settlement agreement reached with the County Commission establishes the wildlife corridor. However, we currently have the Department of Game and Freshwater Fish Commission, which does exactly the same thing. Pasco County was forced to hire an individual to oversee this program. In that instance I think that's duplication of services, and it's an unjust service to the taxpayers of Pasco County.

Question

KIEFER: You have stated in our most recent forum that you were sensitive to the water issues of Pasco. If this is true, then why did your real estate business engineer a $5.5-million dollar land deal that sold Pasco land to Pinellas County knowing what the full intent was for a future well field site?

Answer

SCHRADER: Miss Kiefer, I'm glad that you asked that question. The Barthle family was informed that the sale of their property was never intended to be a well field, but in fact was a water recharge area, conservation area and buffer. In fact, that's exactly what it is today. Since the sale of the ranch 10 years ago, no wells have been put on the property, not one drop of water has been pumped off the property, nor can any water ever be pumped off the water -- off the property. Whoever is informing you of this misinformation is doing nothing but telling you a blatant lie. The property can never, ever pump any water off of it. In fact, this particular piece of property is a pristine piece of property that currently . . . has had over 41/2-million pine trees planted on it in the past five years. The property recently won an award from the National County's Association for Wildlife Management Plan. Jack Hannah, host of Animal Kingdom, has had, has been out there and has . . .

TIMEKEEPER: Time.

Rebuttal

Questio

Answe

Rebutta

TIMEKEEPER: That's it

KIEFER: I've got one more.

TIMEKEEPER: Oh, Miss Kiefer, I'm sorry.

Question

KIEFER: Over the years, you, your family and your clients have had numerous requests of one kind or another before the County Commission and county staff. Don't you believe that if elected, you will have a number of conflicts involving you, your family and clients as a multimillionaire, a real estate broker and a land developer? How would you handle that?

Answer

SCHRADER: The Schrader family has done nothing but good to Pasco County. My grandfather was a county commissioner from 1936 to 1957. During that time, he donated land for what is now State Road 52, and as a county commissioner he encouraged other property owners to donate land so we now have highway 52, which was named in his honor: Schrader Memorial Highway. In addition to that, the Schrader family has donated land where St. Michael's Catholic Church now stands, we donated 20 acres where Schrader Elementary School is on Little Road. We gave the seed money for St. Anthony Catholic Church Parish Center in San Antonio, along with a major contribution to St. Anthony Catholic School. I'm proud of the Schrader heritage, excited about the prospects of being a county commissioner and look forward to being a county commissioner.

Rebuttal

KIEFER: You speak of your grandfather -- your grandfather was a Democrat, true? And there is Schrader Highway, there's also a Kiefer Road, but ours isn't paved. I still feel like you didn't answer my question on how you would vote. Thank you.

About the debate

The debate was held Monday at the Times office in Port Richey. The candidates asked each other four questions, in rotating order. Questions were limited to 30 seconds, with 90 seconds for answers and 30 seconds for rebuttals. The text is unedited.

About the candidates

Ted Schrader, 44, is a native of Tampa who is a citrus grower and real estate broker. He served on the San Antonio (Fla.) City Commission from 1982 to 1988. Schrader has served for years as a director of the Pasco County Farm Bureau and was a board member of the Pasco Regional Medical Center. Schrader earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida. He is married with three children

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