He served eight years in the Florida House, a few weeks on the state’s Public Service Commission, and some additional time working in Gov. Charlie Crist’s administration.
So why would Ken Littlefield, who is approaching his 70th birthday, want to try once again to replace Pat Mulieri on the Pasco County Commission?
“Short answer: I like making the rules,” the former state representative said. “That is what a county commissioner does. They set policy. If you have good policy, you have good law. It all starts with policy, and policy is making the rules.”
Littlefield shared that during the first debate among Republican candidates looking to represent their party in the November elections for Mulieri’s District 2 seat. But if Littlefield wants even a decent shot at making rules again, he has a lot of ground to make up because Mike Moore is winning the money and endorsement game, and that might be all he needs to move on past the August primary.
“I am the person I would elect for this job,” Moore told members of the Pasco Federated Republican Women’s Club during a debate last week in Trinity. “We’re going to have a committee formed in Pasco County that is going to be business individuals and community leaders to help me and help the rest of the community recruit businesses here. You’ve seen Gov. Scott doing it, and (Texas) Gov. (Rick) Perry doing it. Now it’s Pasco’s turn to pull those jobs into the state.”
The debate was the first time Littlefield, Moore, and Zephyrhills financial analyst Bob Robertson had a chance to not only present their case to Republicans, but also explain what distinctly qualifies them to lead the party’s ticket for Mulieri’s seat. Robertson said his decision to run came from his wife Cindy, and a little divine intervention.
“It was frankly something Cindy and I have been praying about, and praying about often,” Robertson said. “My objective in deciding to run is, frankly, to bring glory to my God in the process.”
All three know serving on the county commission is not the easiest job. Controversy pokes its head up more often than many might prefer — everything from gas taxes to elevated toll roads — and it’s not easy to stay on many voters’ Christmas card list.
But Moore, who has outraised Robertson more than four-to-one through the end of January, says his key to solid leadership on the commission involves using his ears.
“It’s not about me, it’s about all of us,” he said. “It’s about listening to your constituents and talking to your constituents. I think you have to come together more and listen more to the people. Some of the commissioners do a great job of that, and some don’t.”
Robertson agreed, and took it a step further. While candidates are typically asked about the controversies of today, it’s the debates that haven’t even been considered yet voters need to think about when going to the polls.
“We are talking about hiring someone for a four-year commitment, and is going to be making decisions on your behalf on issues that haven’t seen the light of day yet,” Robertson said. “You need to elect someone to serve in this position who you believe is going to best look out for your interests.”
Moore, who founded and later sold CareFirst Home Care, said he wants to take a business approach to how the county is run. Littlefield, however, said that’s the last thing a county commissioner should do.
“What I am really concerned about is that the county government does not become a business, because when government becomes a business, we have real problems,” he said. “That is what we’ve seen over the years, government gets bigger and bigger and bigger. In Pasco County, the government is the biggest business there is. And if we are going to be fiscally conservative and say we want less government, then this business that we call government is going to have to get smaller and smaller and smaller.”
Some of that big government has likely moved forward more residential and commercial development than the county is ready for, Littlefield said.
“I can’t tell you to put the toothpaste back in the tube,” he said. “There is probably nothing we can do there. But we can be vigilant with new permits to be let out.”
Moore, however, said developers should be left alone.
“If these people have invested their hard-earned money to build developments, and people are going to live there and buy those homes, I don’t see anything that’s wrong with that,” he said. Moore has acknowledged collecting sizeable donations from developers and builders — more than $13,000 to date — but said that won’t influence his decisions.
Robertson, however, said he’s not interested in receiving a single dollar from developers.
“People I know have contributed to my campaign because they believe in me and believe in what I stand for,” Robertson said. “If I accept money from people who are doing business with our county … I want to be able to make a decision for you, not for the people who have contributed to my campaign.”
Littlefield said he took that same approach when he unsuccessfully ran against Mulieri four years ago, and he won’t be doing it again.
“I can declare to you it did not work for me, and today I will take money from anybody who wants to give it to me,” Littlefield said.
To read more about the debate, especially the candidates’ position on the proposed elevated toll road for the State Road 54/56 corridor, check out our website at tinyurl.com/PascoDebate.
Published March 12, 2014