Pay attention time starts now
It’s qualifying week in Citrus County and throughout Florida, the noon Monday to noon Friday finale to see who’s on the primary and/or general election ballot.
Most names are fairly known by now. It’s rare that candidates who actually campaign prior to qualifying decide not to put their name on the ballot. Many already collected enough petition signatures to qualify.
So if you’re seeing campaign signs out and about, those folks are likely in, barring something unforeseen. If a candidate knocked on your door, same thing.
I’ll be updating the Just Wright Citrus Facebook page throughout the week with qualifying candidates. You’ll know it by the awesome logo that accompanies today’s blog, provided to me by one of those friends who’s a whiz at all things computer and just wants to help.
Qualifying weeks are often routine but sometimes contain an element of surprise. Last-minute candidates are not as random as they once were since the state changed the law to make it harder for no-party affiliation phonies to drop in unannounced at the final hour.
Doesn’t mean it can’t happen. There’s an NPA in the county commission District 2 race, Paul Grogan. If he qualifies, he’ll block non-Republicans from voting in the real race between Diana Finegan and Stacey Worthington, which happens in the August primary.
Grogan collected zero and spent zero on his campaign in May. He shows $75 in-kind for use of copy paper and ink. His personal Facebook page has links to Finegan’s campaign (potential opponent), as well as District 4 Republicans Rebecca Bays and Winn Webb. (No mention of John Murphy, or Worthington.
Grogan may be a nice guy with great intentions or he could be a set up. Either way the damage is done: Half the registered voters in Citrus County are blocked from the primary. Regardless of intentions, he should go in knowing he's done that.
Let’s hope common sense prevails by Friday. If not, we’ll deal with it. That nonsense NEVER works the way those behind it intend for it to work, which we’ll explain if necessary.
Other than the surprise candidate dropping in or out, the other fun part of qualifying week is reading the candidate's financial disclosure reports.
Candidates for county and state offices have to provide some pretty specific financial information about themselves, including net worth. The reports list assets and debts and the ones I’ve read were somewhat thorough.
I tell you what, someone has to really want to get elected to freely tell the world that type of personal information. Some candidates attach their income tax returns.
If you’re new to the process of electing people in Citrus County, I’d highly recommend viewing those reports. Same with the candidate collecting/spending reports, which have been coming monthly but will start being filed at a more accelerated rate as we close in on the Aug. 23 primary.
I mentioned the process. There’s a lot more to campaign season than just voting. I mean, if you really want to have a hand on how this county moves forward, now’s the time to do it. As of now, five (legitimate) people are running for county commission. Whoever wins, those two will be joining three commissioners just itching to get moving after nearly two years of lost opportunities.
Considering our circumstances, I’d suggest this is the most significant county commission election I recall. Two open seats and so much at stake — growth, roads, traffic, housing, competing zoning interests, taxes. And all of it seems so immediate. Whoever is elected needs to know what the heck he or she is doing on Day One.
So here’s the challenge: Pay attention. I’ll leave it at that as to how much of your life you want to devote to county commission candidates. But I’m being serious. If you’re new here or it’s been your home since infancy, and you’ve got an opinion on where we are and where we should be, let these five people know.
By noon Friday we’ll know who’s asking for our trust with Citrus County’s future. Let’s get to know them, shall we?
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.