Worthington takes first round
There was every intent to come out of the Independence Day weekend with a full breakdown of the county commission Districts 2 and 4 races from Thursday’s Chronicle forum.
But after spending FOUR HOURS Monday dissecting, Zapruder style, the District 2 video recording of Diana Finegan and Stacey Worthington, I decided to divide it into two days. (Here's the link, District 2 is around 1:53.)
— Right out, give it to Worthington head-to-head. She was better prepared, had more ideas, spoke succinctly of her experience and how it plays into the county commission. Worthington admitted when she didn’t have an answer (a rare trait with politicians and candidates), and didn’t promise anything she couldn’t deliver.
Finegan, by contrast, offered vague suggestions and overviews but light on the details.
— Perfect example: First question was about residential road resurfacing. It’s a mess. What’s your solution?
Now, this really is the litmus test for county commission candidates. We’ve been talking about the neighborhood road problem for seven years, ever since Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr. convinced the public that the county never paved a mile of road until he arrived (nonsense, of course).
Each county commission candidate should have some rational observation and ideas about neighborhood road repaving. It’s a softball question.
Finegan whiffed. No details. She’ll do what we want, whatever that means. Scrutinize the budget. She’s also OK with the sales tax referendum idea. Nothing new.
Worthington was a little better. She explained the problem — a million miles of roads, at the current pace it’ll take 341 years to pave them all, something like that — and offered up some in-the-weeds solutions. Not super deep stuff but at least she’s given it some thought.
— Speaking of a sales tax referendum for neighborhood roads, they both support the idea but it was Worthington really pushing it as a solution. For the life of me, I cannot understand where this idea is coming from or why a candidate is wasting time in 2022 talking about a tax two years from now.
— Candidates always tout their “experience” but it comes into play here.
Worthington is a member of the Citrus County Planning and Development Commission (PDC), which has undergone numerous name changes over the years but is your basic planning board. It’s the group basically just below the county commission.
She played that up Thursday night.
“It’s a serious time for Citrus County,” she said in her closing statement. “It’s a transformative moment…. We need the right person for this time for this explosive growth. I have the experience and institutional knowledge from sitting on that board to be ready to jump in, day one.”
Now, whether you agree with her views on the PDC or not, one can’t argue that’s actual experience. The planning commission is in the middle of the growth debate. Of the five candidates in both county commission races, Worthington is the only one with planning board experience.
This is how Finegan started her closing:
“I do have all the experience and all the things Stacey mentioned. So, thank you, I don’t need to repeat that.”
— Worthington gets the head-scratcher award for saying in her closing statement that you wouldn’t hire a dentist to fix your air conditioner. Her point, common among politicians, is that I'm the expert and my opponent isn’t.
Except both Worthington AND Finegan own air-conditioning repair companies with their respective husbands. So the comparison fell somewhat flat.
Meanwhile, Finegan ended her closing with a poignant shout out to her mom and dad, who were in attendance. Diana tried not to tear up as she talked about being raised by parents who taught the value of honesty and hard work.
It was a beautiful scene to witness.
I’ll have the District 4 wrap, including my own feat of oops, later this week.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.