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District 1 Hernando County Commission

With the incumbent commissioner defeated in the primary, voters will choose either Betty Whitehouse or Janey Baldwin as a replacement.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


For the past three months, Democrat Betty Whitehouse and Republican Janey Baldwin have spent their time convincing voters that two-term incumbent Commissioner Pat Novy must go.

Whitehouse defeated Novy in a runoff election in October, leaving Whitehouse and Baldwin to show why they are the better replacement.

Baldwin, who is retired, argues that her experience as an elected official in Missouri gives her the edge of understanding how to work inside government. A member of several public boards locally, Baldwin also says she has a strong grasp of topics such as water conservation and emergency planning.

On the campaign trail, she pushes for a review of the county comprehensive growth plan so that it considers protection of agricultural areas and promotes the "village concept" for future development of subdivisions. She also has proposed that Hernando follow Citrus County's lead in adopting more protection of its local water resources.

Her budget priorities include roads, the Sheriff's Office and recreation. She also has called for child care for county employees.

Whitehouse, human resources director for Regional Healthcare Inc., stresses her management capabilities as a selling point. She notes that she has taught ethics courses, led strategic planning sessions and operated budgets for businesses.

Whitehouse said she plans to resign her job, if elected, and would recuse herself from voting on issues relating to Regional Healthcare's hospitals if she decides she cannot judge fairly. However, Whitehouse said, having worked for the company, she has insights that would help make the right decisions.

She said she does not necessarily agree with company management just because she works for them.

Whitehouse has focused on improving county services for the elderly. She also has called for more accountability measures for the county's Economic Development Commission and has set road repairs as the county's top priority.

Both candidates say they will serve as full-time commissioners. They also said they would try to be independent, but would not listen to only a select group of residents, as Novy was accused of doing.

THE JOB

County commissioners are elected at large for four-year terms, though commissioners must live in the district they represent. A map of commission districts appears on Page 17. Commissioners adopt ordinances governing the county to ensure the safety, health and welfare of its residents. Commissioners earn $44,376 a year.

REPUBLICAN

MARTHA JANE "JANEY" BALDWIN, 71, is a native of St. Louis who moved to Hernando County, east of Brooksville, in the late 1980s. She ran for the District 1 commission seat in 1992, losing in the Republican primary. Since then, Baldwin has served on the Southwest Florida Water Management District's Hillsborough River Basin Board, the 5th Judicial Nominating Commission, the Arc Nature Coast Board of Directors and the Florida District 5 Local Emergency Planning Committee. While living in Missouri, Baldwin won election to the Town and Country Board of Aldermen and later ran unsuccessfully to become the suburb's mayor. Now retired, Baldwin has worked as a secretary, flight attendant, office manager and farm hand. Baldwin graduated from high school in 1948 and attended St. Louis University but did not complete a degree. She is married. ASSETS: home, U.S. Treasury bonds, banking accounts. LIABILITIES: none. SOURCE OF INCOME: interest on investments.

DEMOCRAT

MARY E. "BETTY" WHITEHOUSE, 61, was born in Ohio and moved to Brooksville about 12 years ago. A registered nurse, Whitehouse is director of human resources for Regional Healthcare Inc., which owns Brooksville Regional and Spring Hill Regional hospitals. She had not run for elected office before defeating incumbent Pat Novy in the Democratic primary. Whitehouse has served on the Hernando Health Care Board, the Alzheimer's Board of Directors West Central Florida chapter, the United Way Board of Directors and the Mid-Florida Agency on Aging board. She has a bachelor's degree from Drake University and did some master's degree work at the University of Minnesota. Whitehouse is a widow with grown children. ASSETS: home, car, investments. LIABILITIES: mortgage, loan, credit cards. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary.

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