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Candidate replies

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 30, 2000

Zoe McLendon, Democratic candidate for County Commission District 3

In response to your recommendation of Vicki Phillips for County Commissioner District 3, I beg to differ with your opinion of the facts. While you have the right to express your opinions to the voters of Citrus County, you also have a responsibility as a newspaper editor to report the facts, and not a candy-coated version aimed to confuse the voters of Citrus County. Let's examine some of the things that you sing praise of.

Ms. Phillips, leading the commission's unsuccessful effort in 1997 to persuade voters to approve a 1-cent sales tax to improve water and sewage. If the majority of the voters were not in favor of the 1-cent tax, then who was Ms. Phillips representing with that issue? You? It certainly appeared she was not representing the people of Citrus County as they voted against it.

Also, there were other means of getting monies to improve the water and sewage in Citrus other than the 1-cent sales tax -- it's called federal grants. Had the commission pursued means to acquire this money, there would have been no need for a 1-cent sales tax in the beginning.

The south Dunnellon area was used as part of a grant written to obtain money for improving water and sewage to residents in Marion County (a fact that I made you aware of in my interview); we were used because the commission did not feel the money was needed in Citrus County.

Ms. Phillips supported the second phase of the Suncoast Parkway. Again, who is she representing? You? The citizens of Citrus County are actively fighting the construction.

While your bright side of my platform is still pale, I find it very colorful to the people of Citrus County because it includes them (the people of Citrus County) in my decision making. I feel that government should represent the people, unlike the commission's approach, "the people of Citrus County don't know what's good for them."

I think the bright side is that it's time for a whole new approach, new ideas and for someone who is willing to do as they are elected to do -- represent the people.

In a relay race you have several good runners. However, when the runner runs his distance, he must turn the banner over to a new runner with renewed energy to carry the banner further. Mr. Thorpe took the sensible approach in recognizing the fact that the time of an era had passed, and his distance was up.

Bruce Van Vlack, Democratic candidate for County Commission District 1

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your endorsement. My concern is with a headline published on Oct. 23 that read Hopefuls agree on the issues. The boxed copy with our pictures on page 3 clearly indicates the differences on six of the issues you chose to print.

Additionally, my opponent has been a proponent and supporter of the failed 1-cent sales tax, the garbage tax, the impact fees, and the $50,000 consultant that submitted a report that was not accepted and cost an additional $10,000 to correct. After 10 years of neglect, the impact fee schedule is still not resolved. How long will this and other issues go unresolved?

In four years on the Board of County Commissioners, my opponent states his claim to fame is an interlocal agreement between the city of Crystal River and the county. What else has he, as a commissioner, accomplished? I ask the voters to ponder this and make their answer known when they vote. I'll be satisfied with the decision of the voters.

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