Election Lineup Set With Jackson, Holmes Getting Top Largo Spots
by Leo Coughlin
LARGO - With the drawing for ballot position Tuesday night, November's election is officially under way with all those who are going to run fully aboard and the track cleared.
Gigi Arntzen, who got no opponent, has been re-elected, continuing what has been so far an undistinguished career on the City Commission.
Bob Jackson's name will precede that of Pat Gerard in the mayor's race and Curtis Holmes will top Rodney Woods in the contest for commission seat number 3.
Jackson is seeking to re-capture the seat he lost three years ago in a "funny" election, and Holmes wants to unseat Woods who has had one term.
Insiders were shocked last Saturday when neither Gerard nor Woods bothered to show up for an important briefing session for candidates conducted by Diane Bruner, the city clerk, and Mary Hale, the staff lawyer.
These sessions include instructions on campaign financing, report due dates, advertising and so forth.
Showing up might have been useful for Woods whose campaign literature already appears to violate state law.
Chapter 106.143(1)(a) of Florida Statutes specifies that a political advertisement paid for by a candidate must prominently state this language - "Political advertisement paid for and approved by (candidate name), (party), for (office sought)."
Largo's election is non-partisan therefore no party affiliation needs to be listed.
Woods's disclaimer on a web site he has established fails to conform with the law. It says - "Political advertisement paid for and approved by Rodney J. Woods Largo commissioner," leaving out the key and required language)" for Largo City Commission Seat 3."
The idea is that the disclaimer must avoid making it look like the candidate occupies the position sought.
Gerard got in trouble with that in 2006, an election violation was filed and she was fined.
There are other quirks in the Woods situation.
If he is checked on Google, a short Wikipedia biography appears in which he is listed as having one child, a son named Jahlil.
Woods's biography on the city's web site lists a daughter named Tara and no mention of a son.
And his web site shows, among a series of pictures, a photo with a caption that says "May daughter and I on the trail."
There always have been a lot of questions about Woods who came to prominence as a frequent speaker at the citizen comments microphone beginning in 2004 and culminated with his election in 2006 on a platform of agitating that a statue of Martin Luther King be erected in Largo.
His time on the commission has been singularly undistinguished with most of his performance aimed at playing to the audience with insignificant matters. He often does not participate in discussions of matters before the commission due, apparently, to a lack of subject knowledge.
The election is more than 10 weeks away, but there is an unease in the city that seems to grow more leaderless and confused by the day.
While there is wrangling between the administrative staff and the commission, members of the commission seldom exercise their prerogative of setting policy and much time is wasted on chasing down schemes by staff members to protect their own budgets.
One example, remarked on by the chairman of the Finance Advisory Board last week, was the sign posting exercise on a couple of parks that was obviously designed to rouse up the citizenry and prevent cuts in Recreation's swollen $25 million budget.
Jackson pointed out the other day that while the city faces a severe crisis in its plan to breach contracts with city employee unions, it was the current commission that gave approval, less than a year ago, to the contracts that call for 4 percent raises over three successive years.
Even then, the economic crisis that has burdened the whole country for months was in sight.
"When I was mayor I urged the commission to eliminate the three-year salary span in contracts. I was ignored. Had they adhered to a one-year contract last year there would not be a problem today," Jackson said.
He continued - "I am running for mayor in hopes that I can stop some of the nonsense that going on."
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