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A Times Editorial

A matured Batchelor deserves another term

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 24, 2000


We haven't always agreed with Roger Batchelor's opinions, but we've never doubted his sincerity or his genuine concern for the people he represents. That could be reason enough to support Batchelor in his bid for re-election to Citrus County Commission District 1.

But Batchelor's candidacy represents more than unpretentious candor. After four years he has grown in the job, and in the past year his decision-making has matured significantly. He has supported the commission's efforts to improve the county's water resources and infrastructure, was instrumental in advancing the stalemated interlocal agreement between the commission and the Crystal River City Council, and has worked hard to reroute the path of the proposed Suncoast Parkway to skirt the community of Pine Ridge.

More recently, Batchelor has advocated raising impact fees for new residential construction, as well as reviewing them every year. He also has retreated from his blanket support of the beleaguered Economic Development Council.

All those stances are encouraging signs that Batchelor is in step with his constituents and that he's prepared to do even better if he is re-elected to another four-year term, which we recommend.

Batchelor, a Republican, drew no opposition from his party in the primary election. Now he is facing a challenge from Bruce Van Vlack, a Democrat who lives in Homosassa, which is outside District 1. (Van Vlack says he plans to move into District 1 prior to the election, as is required by law.)

Van Vlack, a retired salesman and small business owner, bills himself as the "common-sense candidate." He is personable and articulate and appears earnest in his desire to serve the public. However, he lacks understanding on some key issues, particularly growth management.

For instance, Van Vlack says he would attempt to "stop all development west of U.S. 19." While many people share his concerns about the variety and volume of development in that area, even staunch preservationists recognize that his suggestion would violate the comprehensive land-use plan and contravene the constitutional rights of private property owners.

Batchelor is clearly the most qualified candidate in this race. We strongly recommend him to our readers.

Opportunity to reply

Candidates not recommended by the Times are invited to respond. The reply should be no more than 250 words and must be received no later than 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26. Deliver to 301 W Main St., Inverness, or fax to 860-7320, or e-mail as a text-only file to citrus@sptimes.com.

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