Davis, Smith contrast styles, views at forum

Davis, Smith contrast styles, views at forum

By reporter Mike Wright, as published in the Citrus County Chronicle July 13, 2020:

Unlike District 3, the choice in county commission District 5 is fairly clear.

It’s either Holly Davis or Jimmie T. Smith.

Smith is an incumbent of sorts. He was elected from District 3, but is running for re-election in District 5.

Davis, daughter of former longtime Crystal River Airport operator Tom Davis, is making her first run at public office.

Both sought to point out differences to voters during the Citrus County Chronicle’s virtual forum. Here are the highlights:

• Both candidates were asked about Smith publicly calling for the dismissal of the land development department.

Smith said he never mentioned anyone by name and hasn’t overstepped his position.

“I never called for them to be fired,” he said. “I said I’d have no problem if they were.”

Davis said if she had an issue with a county staffer she would take it up with the county administrator, who the staffer works for.

“You always respect the chain of command,” she said.

• On the subject of the permitting process, Smith said it’s flawed but he’s been unable to convince fellow commissioners to make changes. He said he suggested processes that would allow more permitting to occur online.

“My peers turned it down,” he said.

Davis agreed county permitting needs review but she offered no suggestions for improvement.

“It is a culture of no and that has to go,” she said. “We have to figure out a way to do that.”

• Asked if the county was ready for the Suncoast Parkway when it opens to State Road 44 in 2022, both candidates had their doubts.

Davis suggested the county conduct more frequent workshops to discuss the likely impact, so that it reaps the benefits of the parkway without letting growth from it overrun the county.

Smith said the county should have planned years ago the widening of Cardinal Street to anticipate the parkway interchange there.

“I told my peers we should four-lane Cardinal now … and it was dismissed,” he said.

• On the matter of building support for ideas from other commissioners, Smith said he raises topics because the public asks him to, but many of them do not find traction on the board.

For example, Smith said he suggested the community park in Beverly Hills be set up for food trucks to entice people to the area.

“The answer was, ‘I don’t get it, I don’t see it,’” he said.

Davis, who owns a marketing consulting company, said she knows how to gain support.

“I’ve spent 30 years building consensus and selling visions,” she said. “You have to have the sales skills and humility to bring people along you.”

• Asked for a yes or no answer whether they live within District 5, Davis said yes and Smith said no.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or [email protected].