Moore, Wells sworn into commission seats Tuesday

The Pasco County Commission will welcome two new commissioners to its dais Tuesday, and at the same time decide whether Jack Mariano will get another term as commission chair, or if someone new will be selected.

Mike Moore and Mike Wells Jr., will be officially sworn into office today during the commission’s regular meeting in Dade City. Moore won the Nov. 4 election against Erika Remsberg to replace the retiring Pat Mulieri in District 2. Wells, on the other hand, defeated District 4 incumbent Henry Wilson Jr., during an open Republican primary last August to win a spot on the same commission his father once served.

Both will officially assume their duties soon after the opening gavel falls at 10 a.m., immediately followed by the commission’s election of officers. Wilson was the vice chair of the commission, and had been the presumptive next-in-line for the commission chairmanship. However, with his election defeat and two new commissioners coming on board, it’s most likely either Mariano will serve another year as chair, or those duties could shift to Kathryn Starkey.

Ted Schrader, the other returning commissioner from last year, was the chair beginning in the 2012 session, and it’s a job that historically rotated among the commissioners.

Mariano’s chairmanship has drawn some controversy from other commissioners this past year, beginning in his first week when he drafted a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, asking him to intervene in environmental problems facing a westside park through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Commissioners like Schrader and Starkey said the letter was not cleared through the rest of the board, despite representing what Mariano claimed was its position, and could create more problems for SunWest Park through federal regulators in the future.

Mariano took more heat on SunWest earlier this year when Schrader and Mulieri walked out of a meeting after spending two hours listening to public comment on SunWest. They accused Mariano of packing the speakers to help change the commission’s mind on how much they would fund the project. Commissioners had earlier voted to spend less than Mariano had requested on the project.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse, 37918 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.

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