Two thoughts before we send Primary Election 2022 into the Fort Island Gulf Beach sunset.
—How about a final round of applause for our new candidates who, though not winning, represented themselves well during the campaign?
John Murphy Jr. and Stacey Worthington each brought passion and excitement to the county commission races. Their messages were positive and encouraging. I sincerely hope both stay connected because they’ve made a lot of friends these last few months.
I was impressed with Deborah Daniels. The retired middle school teacher had a firm understanding of issues teachers are facing with new laws interfering with classrooms every day.
I met with Lisa Yeager at Cattle Dog’s and we had a wonderful chat about county judge. Each time we met up on the campaign trail, she was eager and confident.
Finally, my favorite: Tod Cloud. That’s him photobombing me at one of the meet-the-candidate forums.
Tod is the retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper who we all know for his relentless, and good-natured, traffic citations. On the campaign trail for House District 23, Tod kept up that good-natured approach even as one of his opponents was going off the rails.
Hope we see Tod again.
— Diana Finegan won the District 2 Republican primary with 57% over Stacey Worthington. That’s not a small margin.
And, yes I realize there’s shenanigans in this race, with a questionable NPA candidate limiting the primary to only Republican voters, and Finegan benefitted from that.
That said, some comments I’ve read from the anti-Finegan crowd would suggest naïve Republican voters unwittingly elected Lizzie Bordon.
A little perspective.
I’ve covered elections and the candidates after they’re elected. Guess what? They’re not the same people.
What I mean is the person on the campaign trail doesn’t always resemble the one in office. It’s one thing to compete for the job, it’s a whole other life to actually do the job.
And the campaign trail, let’s be honest, can be a little edgy at times, especially the final three weeks. We’ve got a lot of people spending theirs and someone else’s money on campaigns in a single county where they see each other at every community forum — like I said, edgy.
Of all this year’s candidates, Diana and I have had the most difficulty. I’ve written some things she’s not happy about. She rarely speaks with me.
Look. These things happen. Candidates and Citrus County political bloggers don’t always see eye-to-eye. There’s going to be a flare-up or two.
But after they’re sworn in, it’s a new slate. The rules of engagement change. I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about a new commissioner’s interaction with the public, including folks who weren’t in her camp.
Just as we should extend to Finegan the courtesy of getting used to the job before jumping down her throat for something campaign-related (or just staying away from it altogether), we’d hope Finegan will extend that same courtesy to citizens she disagrees with.
I am singularly focused. I want this new county commission to succeed. These last two years have gotten us nowhere but further behind, and the five we have after Nov. 8 will have a ton on their plates.
Let’s save the debates for things that really matter: roads, growth, traffic, housing, zoning, taxes.
A healthy chunk of Primary voters said they wanted Diana Finegan at the table on their behalf. As the late Dennis Damato would say, Finegan has her constituency.
We shouldn’t cheapen that by dragging campaign chatter into elective office. I know not everyone agrees with me, but Finegan deserves a fair shot without people breathing down her neck about something she said in May.
My approach is simple: Finegan does well, meshes with the other four commissioners, helps move this county forward — whatever that looks like — and we’re all winners.
If not, well, that’s chatter for another day.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.