There's no more definite way of expresssing your preference than by putting your money where your mouth is.
And while their voices have remained obscured or silent in public, the money dumped into the campaign of Gigi Arntzen, a commission candidate in Largo, speaks volumes and that very loudly.
Arntzen is clearly the choice of four present Largo city commissioners. In fact, figures as of the end of the year when qualifying ended for the March election, show contributions from close political friends represent 27.8 percent of the $1,345 Arntzen had accumulated to that point.
The largest campaign chest was that of Charlie Harper. He gathered $5,436 according to his report. Harper withdrew from the race to get re-elected to his commission seat on January 28.
The other candidates in the March election -- Mary Black and Joshua Lindsey, vying with Arntzen to fill the seat being vacated by Pat Burke; Andrew Guyette and Rodney Woods, going for Harper's now fully open seat -- have much smaller war chests.
Black counts $1,370, Lindsey $200, Guyette $200 and Woods $500.
Elbert Gentry, husband of Commissioner Gay Gentry, contributed $100 to Arntzen; Eric Gerard, husband of Commissioner Pat Gerard, gave $100 to the Arntzen campaign; Burke tossed in $50 and Commissioner Harriet Crozier, who apparently declined to hid behind a spouse's name, contributed $25 to Arntzen.
In addition, Shirley Craig, wife of Norton (Mac) Craig, assistant city manager, gave Arntzen $100.
So, before the voters have even picked the two new faces that will be on the commission, it is clear that Arntzen, Crozier, Gentry and Gerard are on the same page, at least minimally.
I mean, you usually don't contribute to a candidate unless you favor that person (exception -- business types who like to cover all bases).
Because Arntzen could be seen as a strong candidate -- she has been very visible in Largo politics for years and has said herself that she is now able to run because her husband has retired from county employment.
This agent called her a "clone" of Burke's recently. This was denied by Arntzen before the ink on the paper that week was dry.
More pointedly, another source corrected the notion by saying, "Burke was a clone of Arntzen's."
Well, a clone's a clone's a clone.
If Arntzen winds up in Burke's seat the commission alignment then guarantees continued all-powerful rule by City Manager Steve Stanton.
Stanton has all administrative powers under the City Charter. Everybody in Largo works for Stanton. The city clerk is under his direct authority and, unwisely, even the city attorney reports only to Stanton.
If Black gains the Burke seat, the current four-woman voting bloc now on the commission is reduced to three. There is no telling how Rodney Woods or Andrew Guyette would go. One of them will take Harper's seat.
Of course, because commissioners cannot communicate with one another except at commission meetings, there is no (legal) chance for politicking among the elected. Stanton has got to be licking his chops.
Mayor Bob Jackson may get an alignment of some colleagues if there are unexpected results in the election and the newcomers pick up on trends and signals.
All very strange in a city that is sort of homogenous. That is, there are no ethnic issues, no racial issues, no religious issues, no great economic disparities.
Largo folks are accustomed to accepting what they get. They don't care, for the most part.
If they did, there wouldn't be such apathy.
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