Pasco County Commissioner Mike Wells Jr., concluded his last meeting with the county board, on Oct. 20 with a playful gesture.
He dropped the gavel.
The action — which essentially means, ‘My work is done here’ — provided a glimpse into the commissioner’s self-deprecating humor, and it came at the conclusion of a meeting where he received a standing ovation, and was lavished with praise for his six years of service on the county board.
Commissioners paused from their formal agenda to honor some of Wells’ accomplishments since he won the District 4 seat in 2014 and subsequently won re-election.
He’s leaving the board to become the Pasco County Property Appraiser.
Wells has a long association with politics and government.
After all, he followed in the footsteps of his father, Mike Wells Sr., who served on the Pasco County Commission and then was Pasco County Property Appraiser.
Besides growing up in a household where public service was valued, Wells got involved in political campaigns when he was just 12 years old.
During his tenure on the Pasco County Commission, Wells has voted on myriad issues important to Pasco County residents, businesses, organizations and communities.
He advocated for the extension of Ridge Road — a project the county had pursued for decades that finally began construction at the beginning of this year.
He and his colleagues selected County Administrator Dan Biles to lead the county’s staff.
Wells also took the leading role in reviving scalloping in Pasco County, after a hiatus that had lasted nearly 25 years.
During county meetings and through work with community organizations, he has championed efforts to help the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, the unemployed, veterans and small businesses.
Wells also has called for high expectations of the county staff, as it relates to customer service.
At the same time, he demonstrated support of county staff, too.
During this year’s budget talks, the county administrator recommended a 2% raise for county staff, in keeping with the inflation rate.
He pushed for a 3% raise — to match the percentage approved for state employees and staff of the county’s constitutional officers.
Wells’ firm stand on the issue found support among his colleagues, and ultimately, it won the day.
During the commissioner’s final board meeting, board members surprised him with a resolution outlining Wells’ public service.
They also offered words of praise.
“We campaigned together for a long time,” said Commission Chairman Mike Moore. “We were sworn together Nov. 18 of 2014. The first meeting, it was a doozy of a meeting. Remember that?”
During that session, the board turned down a concept for a sports park on the land that is now occupied by the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus of Pasco County.
That first “no vote” ultimately resulted in a superior outcome, Moore said.
The commission chairman also noted that through the years, Wells has taken “numerous, numerous votes that are going to change this community for the better, and this county for the better, for a long, long time.
“You will be missed,” Moore said.
Commissioner Ron Oakley weighed in, too.
“I think we were all put here at the right time to move Pasco forward. You played a big part in doing that, and doing it the right way,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey added: “I appreciate your leadership here on the board. It’s been really fun working with you all of these years, and I look forward to working with you as property appraiser. I know you’re going to do a great job.”
Commissioner Jack Mariano put it this way: “Mike, I want to say, you’ve been a high-impact commissioner. I think when the two Mikes (Mike Wells and Mike Moore) came on board, they brought a great energy of getting things done.”
He said Wells has worked to help push stormwater projects forward. He also said Wells helped secure funding for Starkey Park and SunWest Park, and supported the county’s acquisition of private water systems, leading to lower rates for customers.
“It’s been a great pleasure working with you,” Mariano said. “I think people recognized that you would be a great property appraiser,” he added.
Pasco County Clerk & Comptroller Nikki Alvarez-Sowles, County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder and County Administrator Biles also expressed their appreciation for Wells’ service on the board.
Published October 28, 2020