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The differences between the two candidates seeking this position lie in their views on growth management and job creation.
By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000
The race for the County Commission seat in District 5 became wide open in May, when Republican Brad Thorpe decided not to seek a third term on the board. The field swelled with six candidates, but several primary battles whittled the race down to two contenders: Republican Millie King and Democrat Josh Wooten.
King, 62, has spent most of her life in local government, including work as the administrative assistant to the finance director and to the police chief of Franklin Township, N.J. She has been a transcriber at the Citrus County Sheriff's Office for six years.
Wooten, 38, built his career in the private sector, most recently as the owner of Wooten's Auto Corp, a used car dealership in Hernando.
Both talk about the explosive growth the county will face in the coming years, and they agree the county should raise the decade-old impact fees, as a consultant has recommended, to pay for needed infrastructure.
The also agree that the Suncoast Parkway will eventually come through Citrus County, so the county should do what it can to preserve the environment and thwart urban sprawl along that corridor.
But King and Wooten have different ideas about how the county should manage its growth and encourage job creation.
"All thinking people know that we are going to grow," Wooten said. "The question is whether we are going to manage the growth or chase it. I think for the past few years we've been chasing it."
Wooten says the county needs to catch up with much-needed infrastructure projects, including widening county roads 491 and 486 sooner than now planned. He also supports part of a proposed code that would require "big box" retailers, such as Home Depot, to put more landscaping in their parking lots and along their storefronts.
Wooten has talked about the importance of sticking to the comprehensive plan, a thick document that describes what kind of development can occur in certain parts of the county.
King has taken the issue a step further by calling for a thorough review of that plan, which has not been revisited as a whole since its 1989 creation. King said a group representing a "cross-section" of the community, including builders, environmentalists, businesses and residents, should spearhead the review.
"We need to review every section and make sure this is what the people of Citrus County want the county to look like," she said. "We're going to get flocked by businesses and we're not going to get a chance to look at (the plan) again until it's all over."
The growing community will need quality jobs more than ever, King said, but she does not think the Economic Development Council is up to the task. Instead of funding the "disorganized" council, King said the county should spend the occupational license fee money on roads and sewers that would benefit businesses.
She also said a county employee should replace the council as the liaison to businesses interested in expanding or relocating here.
Wooten agreed that the Economic Development Council has been plagued by its own blunders and poor public image, and he said the group would have to "work out its kinks" in order for him to support it.
Wooten said he would support the council at least long enough for several of its projects, including the job grant program and the microloan program, to come to fruition. But he said as commissioner, he would revisit the county's "business plan" to see if there is a better way to promote development.
"If they continue on in their present state and can't get the community support behind them, there's no way they can be successful," Wooten said.
-- BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
The County Commission is the legislative and policy-setting body for Citrus County. Commissioners represent a district, but are elected by voters countywide. District 5 includes Hernando, Holder and northeast Citrus. Commissioners serve four-year terms and earn $44,043 a year.
MILLIE KING, 62, is a transcriber for the Citrus County Sheriff's Office. King was born in New York but has spent much of her career in New Jersey and Florida working for government agencies in finance and law enforcement. She has also worked in real estate and once ran a lawn and garden equipment store with her husband. She moved to Inverness in 1991. She is married and has two children and two stepchildren. ASSETS: home, car. LIABILITIES: mortgage. SOURCE OF INCOME: salary from Sheriff's Office.
JOSH WOOTEN, 38, is a Hernando resident who owns Wooten's Auto Corp., a used car dealership. The Jacksonville native worked as a builder and a political consultant before moving to Citrus County in 1984. Wooten was one of the founders of the Hernando Community Enhancement Council, a group created in 1997 to bring beautification and crime prevention to the area. Wooten is married and has three children. ASSETS: home and land, rental property, stock in car dealership and limousine service, retirement account, bank accounts. LIABILITIES: mortgage on home and rental property, home equity loan, car payment. SOURCE OF INCOME: car dealership.
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