We’re going to have a little fun with Tod Cloud’s parking skills today, but first a few words about the Canvassing Board and Commissioner Diana Finegan.
The Canvassing Board certifies local election results. It’s kind of a big deal. It has three members: the Supervisor of Elections, a County Court Judge, and a County Commissioner.
Not surprising, but the Canvassing Board is non-political. Three people with no particular interest in the 2024 election other than the same interest anyone has. Its members can’t be involved in any political way, including working on behalf of or against a candidate.
That rules out incumbents on the ballot. Commissioner Jeff Kinnard has already announced his re-election, so he can’t serve. Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach and Chairman Holly Davis are expected to go for re-election, so they can’t serve on the Canvassing Board either.
Leaving Commissioners Rebecca Bays and Diana Finegan, who were elected two years ago and are sitting this one out. Earlier this year, the commission named Finegan to the Canvassing Board with Bays as an alternate in case Finegan couldn’t do that for some reason.
Guess what? She can’t do it. And here’s the reason: political ambition.
Actually, “can’t” is not the proper word. “Won’t” is more appropriate.
During a weirdly uncomfortable few moments Tuesday, Finegan apologized to Bays but didn’t come right and say what the problem was, only that there may be a 2024 campaign that’s “impossible for me to separate from.”
She said Elections Supervisor Maureen “Mo” Baird told her if she has a conflict to step aside now because major training is about to start in January. Understanding election laws and procedures is paramount, and the Canvassing Board is not an easy gig.
Well, of course, we wanted to know what Finegan meant. I spoke Wednesday with Baird, who said Finegan reported to her she may be “politically active” in 2024.
I’ve since heard Finegan’s interest is Republican State Committeewoman, which is actually an elected position for Republican voters. The current committeewoman, Avis Craig, hasn't decided if she's running again next year.
If that's Finegan's aim, it makes sense. Finegan is in tight with the Republican Executive Committee, and many county GOPs have elected officials serving in the higher ranks.
Timing, though, is an issue. Right now, she has another job and voters expect her full-time attention to that one.
When this came up Tuesday, Bays had the look of being both perplexed and perturbed. She’s forced to take this role because Finegan is pursuing separate political ambitions.
We’re not going to hammer on this but it’s a concern. We need five commissioners focused on the issues at hand.
— Anyone who attends County Commission meetings knows what a pain it is to park. The Courthouse parking lot is riddled with reserved spaces (future blog subject) and it fills up pretty fast.
On busy days I just plan on parking along Dampier Street, which is what I did a few weeks ago. As I got out of my car, I saw a car parking in the City Garden lot next to the Courthouse and adjacent to Rep. Ralph Massullo’s district office.
Now here’s the thing about this parking lot. For some reason, you need a permit to park. I’m guessing that’s so the garden people won’t be blocked but, frankly, I rarely see anyone parked there. It’s basically wasted space.
So, who should pop out of that car? None other than Tod Cloud, our favorite retired state trooper and candidate for House District 23.
Well, there’s irony, and then there’s irony that happens right in front of me. Raise your hand if you ever got a break from Trooper Tod? And…I see no hands.
I snapped the photo and sent it to Tod asking, hey, what’s the deal about you parking in a permit-only lot? We went back and forth some, and I asked him about it again on Tuesday.
He was in a hurry and needed a place to park. Totally get it.
I sent the photo to a couple of people asking if it’s blog-worthy. The response was, only if I’m not being serious.
Look. Political candidates have to put up with a lot, and I hope Tod’s a good sport about this. Some things just make me smile.
Have an awesome Thursday, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.