They share a name, they share values, and even share a penchant to serve the people through elected office.
Mike Wells Jr., is seeking a spot on the Pasco County Commission, just like his father, Mike Wells Sr., did some three decades ago. And while it’s tough to get out from under the shadow of his father, the younger Wells still aspires to be just like his dad, a respected government leader who is currently the county’s property appraiser.
Mike Wells Jr., has worked to establish his own credentials over the years, leading a regional office for Enterprise Rent-A Car, and now working as a Realtor to help families find homes.
Like his father, Mike Wells Jr., has worked to develop strong leadership skills, and that’s exactly what he wants to bring to the county commission.
“We need leadership there, and we need it right now,” said Wells, who is running for the District 4 seat currently held by Henry Wilson Jr. “We lost Ann Hildebrand on the commission a few years back, and now Ted Schrader says he is retiring in a couple years. Quite frankly, that creates a vacuum that needs to be fixed.”
The political bug first bit Wells when he was 12 and his father decided he was going to run for county commission. Now, three decades later, Wells is running for a seat on that board himself, getting support from his own 12-year-old son, Cole.
“I remember going to events and meeting people all the time,” Wells said about his father. “It gave me a true look at how people can be involved in government, as long as you have leaders willing to listen.”
One thing potential voters have told Wells on the campaign trail is that they don’t want new taxes, even as the county struggles to continue providing services many have come to expect.
“We went through the most harsh economic times, and it’s only now that the real estate market is finally starting to come back,” he said. “This is just the wrong time for property taxes to be going up.”
Instead, the rise in property values should help provide the extra funding the government needs, Wells said, as the prosperity there can be passed along to much-needed government programs.
Of course, that does mean continued economic development, and what Wells sees as a greater role for the independent Pasco Economic Development Council in government. The organization had presented some ideas earlier this year on how the county could manage some of its Penny for Pasco money to fuel economic development, but the commission started pushing in a different direction that doesn’t necessarily include the Pasco EDC.
“We are all in this together, we’re all on the same team,” Wells said. “We have to work together, and Penny for Pasco is there to use, and we need to use it right.”
That also means encouraging smart development, and creating the right transportation infrastructure to support it.
Right now, the county is struggling to get people from one side of Pasco to the other. While there have been some unpopular proposals on how to expand the State Road 54/56 corridor, Wells believes more attention is needed for State Road 52 to the north, and for the county to finally get a handle on the embattled Ridge Road extension project that has yet to move forward.
And there isn’t solid economic development without more jobs coming to the county.
“We need to be able to bring jobs and bring companies to Pasco County,” Wells said. “But it starts with roads. It starts with having a plan to attract them there. And we need to work closely with our partners, like the PEDC, to make it happen.”
It also means getting residents more active in government, starting with the commission itself. It’s one thing for a commissioner to reach out whenever possible, but meetings need to be accessible as well.
Wells plans to push the commission to have at least some of its meetings in the evening, so that people who work can also participate in the process. He also wants to find ways to streamline meetings that right now can typically run for six or seven hours at a time.
“I’m not saying that we should necessarily do this, but when my dad was a commissioner, that board met at least once a week,” Wells said. “The county is now three times larger than what it was back then, and the commission only meets every other week. That’s something I really think we need to look at.”
MIKE WELLS JR.
Republican candidate for Pasco County Commission, District 4
Realtor, F.I. Grey & Son Residential Inc.
Tiffany Wells, wife
Cole Wells, son
New Port Richey, 8 years
Pasco County, lifelong
through Aug. 1
Published August 13, 2014
See this story in print: Click Here