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Spring Hill Fire Rescue District

The top three vote-getters among these five candidates will earn seats on this board.

By JENNIFER FARRELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 1, 2000


Three seats are up for grabs on the five-member Spring Hill Fire Rescue District commission, with five candidates vying for the at-large, non-partisan, volunteer positions.

Incumbents Dennis M. Andrews and Al Kroner are facing challenges from first-time candidates Jeffrey Hollander, Donald R. Knutson and Richard D. Martin. Incumbent Gene Wright opted not to seek a fourth term. The top three vote-getters win seats.

Andrews, who is running for a second four-year term, said his knowledge of the district sets him apart from his opponents. His campaign initiatives include boosting the board's fiscal responsibility and tightening oversight of the administration.

Andrews, 47, a former assistant Spring Hill fire chief, has a rocky history with Chief Michael Morgan. He resigned in September 1995 after Morgan criticized him for making a series of poor decisions, mostly related to district finances.

Andrews works as an instructor at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala and received his bachelor's degree in management from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.

Hollander wants to streamline the district's operations to keep pace with rapid population growth predicted for Spring Hill. He decided to seek a seat on the board after hearing rumors about a possible consolidation of Spring Hill's fire and rescue services with those for the rest of the county, a move he opposes.

Hollander said he has no specific criticisms of how the district is run but said he would look to improve on an already good thing.

Hollander, 48, owns HNA Computer Systems, which sells medical billing and management software to companies nationwide. A native of Queens, N.Y., he moved to Spring Hill in 1993. Hollander has a bachelor's degree from City University of New York and is married with two stepchildren.

Knutson cited frugality and increased administrative oversight as top priorities. Knutson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who holds a law degree, said he is uniquely qualified to follow through with such initiatives.

He would also like to use Robert's Rules of Order to run commission meetings.

Knutson said a 1991 bankruptcy on file in U.S. Bankruptcy Court was related to a loan that he co-signed for his then-wife to purchase an RV before they divorced.

Before retiring, Knutson, 68, was administration director at the Jacksonville Air National Guard base, commander of the Air National Guard security police in Jacksonville and commander for the disaster preparedness squadron. He grew up in Chicago and has seven children.

Kroner, who is seeking his second four-year term, said he will focus on bringing harmony to the board, which he said suffers from a faction working against Morgan.

Director of sales for Econo Lodge in New Port Richey, Kroner has served for two years as commission vice chairman. He said he will rely on his experience, if re-elected.

Kroner, 66, is married with four children. A native of upstate New York, he moved to Florida in 1980 and to Spring Hill in 1982. He has a bachelor's degree from New Hampshire College.

Martin said he sees room for improving the district's finances by categorizing wants and needs more carefully. He said he would focus on streamlining the department's expenses without sacrificing operational readiness.

Martin, 31, is a territory manager for Pro Equipment, which deals in outdoor power equipment. A native of the Bahamas, he lived most of his life in Sarasota, moving to Spring Hill three years ago. He is a graduate of Georgia Military College and of Georgia College and State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He has been an Army reservist for 13 years and was a state-certified rescue specialist in college. He is married with one child.

THE JOB

Commissioners on the board of the Spring Hill Fire and Rescue District set policy and oversee all district finances and operations. The board consists of five non-partisan members who serve four-year terms. They are not paid.

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