SUN CITY CENTER – Avoiding the pitfalls of recent national candidate debates, present and would-be Community Association directors here exhibited no “senior moments” and denied no serious scandals, but did stake out some positions on local issues during a forum last week.
What little sparring occurred among the five candidates for three open board seats came late in the Q and A program during the annual Candidates’ Night at Community Hall on November 9. The question prompting the exchange centered on how to achieve additional parking around and near the Atrium building on the Central Campus.
Al Alderman, a current director now seeking his second three-year term, responded by suggesting that useful information on the topic would be unveiled this week during the first of three community Town Hall sessions dedicated to consideration of an extensive board-designed capital improvements project.
To this, Ron King, competing for the first time in the annual election fray, first suggested adequate parking exists but may require a little “healthful” walking and then, referring obliquely to Alderman’s indirect reply, retorted questioningly “we’re going to expose all the secrets, finally?”
Alderman returned a tight-lipped “no comment.”
Jane Keegan, a sitting director appointed last year to fulfill an expired term and now after her first elected three-year term, added the denial that “there are no secrets.”
This subject of extensive – and expensive enough to incur debt – capital improvements also underscored differing candidate outlooks in the course of other questions. Weighing in after a question about the community’s challenges was posed, both Alderman and Keegan emphasized a need for “updating” and “refreshing” components of the Central Campus.
Again, King expressed an opposing view, saying “Obama called it stimulus,” comparing the funding required to underwrite a razing and rebuilding endeavor to federal government loans for big business as a means of curtailing the economic crisis in 2008.
On the same wave length, Paul Sasville, also a first-time candidate, likened the situation to restoring “that ’32 Ford in the garage.” The vehicle may be decades old, but carefully restored, it will be something beautiful, he said.
On the other hand, Howie Griffin, a former director now wishing to return to the board, allowed “If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.” Pointing to the age of the office complex on the Central campus, Griffin added “I live here and I want to see the place come into the 21st century.”
King interjected that “everything ages,” adding that it might be wiser to add onto rather than raze and replace.
The exchange wrapped up with Griffin noting “There’ll be more on Nov. 16,” referring to the first Town Hall meeting in Community Hall.
The same put-off came in connection with query of the candidates regarding their outlooks on incurring debt. King and Sasville, the director election newcomers, both expressed strong views opposing a heavy debt load in an unsteady economy, with Sasville saying forcefully “Let’s not go into debt, period!”
The three sitting directors among the candidates did not add anything more to their viewpoints already expressed.
The candidates also dealt with other sensitive but related subjects involving restricting use of SCC amenities and providing a playground for grandchildren.
King, who said he has observed much younger people who could not be residents or visitors using the community’s facilities on different occasions, asserted that the amenities are meant for and should be restricted to residents only.
Again, he and Alderman defined the line of demarcation between them. Talking about how to enforce the restricted use, Alderman noted that at one time the CA had looked at a system designed to accomplish that, but rejected it due to a projected cost in the $180,000 neighborhood. King responded he had experience with a system that managed 4,000 employees and cost less than $1,000 to install at a central gateway.
As for a grandkids’ playground, King turned thumbs down on the idea, saying “Disney is close. Let’s keep it that way.” Sasville echoed the sentiment, stating he has four beloved grandchildren, but prefers their company “one at a time.”
Alderman and King, however, did agree emphatically on one subject. Asked about resident contributions to beautification of S.R. 674 or Sun City Center Boulevard as it bisects the community, both stated a policy fair to and involving all residents should be adopted. “The boulevard is gorgeous,” King noted, adding it is one reason visitors become buyers.
The candidates are scheduled to make additional appearances before the election balloting deadline, Dec 7 and 8.
Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson