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District 3 Hernando County Commission

Voters won't have to look far to find the differences between Diane Rowden and Carey Carlson.

By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


With incumbent Bobbi Mills dispatched in the primary, the race for Hernando County Commission District 3 pits former Hernando School Board member Diane Rowden, a Democrat, against newcomer Republican Carey Carlson.

Without four years of Mills' record as grist for the mill, the candidates instead must distinguish themselves and their visions for Hernando County.

They differ on just about every issue.

Carlson backs continued growth of the cement and concrete industry, for instance, while Rowden vocally has opposed the expansion of local plants. Rowden wants the county to take over economic development programs, while Carlson supports keeping the effort in the hands of the public-private Economic Development Commission.

Rowden touts herself as a "steady, consistent voice of the people." As a former School Board member, she counts among her accomplishments the county's move to an appointed superintendent and the board's adoption of an anti-nepotism policy. One of her top priorities for the commission is to establish a local board to advocate for senior citizens.

Carlson, president of his own ready-mix concrete company, talks about the need to provide a stronger business perspective to the commission. He focuses on transportation issues in his campaign, calling for stricter adherence to the county frontage road policy and for better use of the county airport.

The two also have contrasting campaign strategies and styles.

Rowden has refused to take contributions from any company or special-interest group that does business with the county. She aggressively approaches would-be voters in parking lots and other public places to introduce herself and seek support.

Carlson has set no limits on contributions. More low-key, he generally speaks when spoken to unless in an established forum, and acknowledges he has limited political savvy. He does not live in District 3 but must reside within the district by Election Day if he wins.

THE JOB

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

REPUBLICAN

CAREY J. CARLSON, 45, was born in Ohio and grew up in Hernando County. He works as a consultant for the cement and construction industries, and is founder and owner of Metro Redi-Mix Concrete in Tampa. Carlson is a director of the Florida Independent Concrete Producers Association and chairman of the Jerome Brown Community Center board. He had planned to run for State House District 44 this year, but withdrew when incumbent state Rep. David Russell decided to seek re-election. Carlson then announced he would run for commission District 3, which encompasses most of northern Hernando County. He has a bachelor's degree in business management from Saint Leo University and attended the University of Florida. Carlson is divorced and has two sons. ASSETS: office building, 40-acre property, two businesses. LIABILITIES: bank loans. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary. WEB SITE: http://www.hernandoroads.com.

DEMOCRAT

DIANE B. ROWDEN, 51, who lives in Royal Highlands, was born in St. Petersburg and moved to Hernando County 15 years ago. She is a 31-year veteran flight attendant for Delta Air Lines, whose regular route takes her to Tokyo frequently. If elected, she plans to work for Delta part-time, flying only two weekends each month, and to serve as a full-time commissioner. Rowden was elected to the Hernando County School Board in 1990 and suspended from office three years later for violating the state's open meetings law. A state Senate committee recommended her reinstatement in 1994, but the full Senate rejected that recommendation. Rowden ran unsuccessfully for County Commission in 1994 as a Democrat and in 1996 as a no-party candidate. She has been active in the Democratic Party and is a member of the Hernando County Tourist Development Council and the Human Rights Coalition. Rowden attended St. Petersburg Junior College. She is married and has two grown children. ASSETS: three cars, home. LIABILITIES: car loan, mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary. WEB SITE: http://www.dianerowden.com.

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