By Leo Coughlin
Voters in Largo face a critical choice November 6.
The choice for Seats 5 and 6 on the City Commission in both cases is between an experienced hand and a wannabe.
Harriet Crozier, the incumbent in Seat 5, should be kept by the voters; she is knowledgeable and competent.
Curtis Holmes, a familiar figure at commission meetings for years, is equally knowledgeable and competent.
John Mandujano and Louis Brown, opponents of Crozier and Holmes, respectively, seem to be nice fellows, but one wonders what are they doing here?
Well, let's take that back, momentarily.
Brown is there because he is the candidate of the Chamber of Commerce which, as a special interest, has a definite agenda. And he is also the candidate of The Hive.
Mandujano is just plain silly. He is strongly in favor of a couple of issues that have already been decided by the strong and emphatic voice of the people - the Stanton mess and the King statue foolishness.
On top of that, he wants to abolish Largo's police force and bring in the Sheriff's Office.
Jim Coats and his men are as fine a police outfit as one could want; but the people of Largo strongly identify with their own men in blue.
Mandujano has, as the expression goes, taken careful aim and shot his foot off. If ever there was a misplaced candidate, it is he.
Of equal stature is Brown. The guy simply knows nothing about the issues and the workings of the city. That has been proven in his public appearances, at the so-called debates, where he has been the poster boy for the famous "deer caught in the headlights" syndrome.
Brown's response to questions raised about issues and city affairs has been substantially a painful, "Huh?"
There is no question that Holmes is a candidate of and for the people. His agenda is to bring the most prudent and careful government to serve and benefit the people of Largo.
Likewise, Crozier has always been a careful and prudent performer, does her homework as a commissioner and carefully watches spending and performance.
Mandujano, her opponent, has conducted a lackluster campaign. He has turned down appearances at two of the four "debates." Apparently, like many carpet-baggers that show up in these parts, he thinks that Largo folks are yokels and he can teach them the ropes of how "it ought to be."
In one glaring example, he wants to turn downtown into Ybor City. That's what he said. Whew!
Brown's mission is obvious. You look at who contributed to this neophyte and you get the picture. He also favors packing plenty of bars along West Bay Drive downtown. Why? Because this favors the special interest he represents - the Chamber of Commerce and business.
The Hive is backing Brown to the hilt. The Hive is the group of folks in Largo - the so-called elite - who cast themselves in a leadership role and believe in using YOUR money to further THEIR aims.
These are the folks who pick the pockets of hard working Largonians. The group that doesn't blink at $10,000 (TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!) a week being taken from Largo taxpayers to support the failed Cultural Center.
Make no mistake about it, friends. There is much at stake in the November 6 election.
What it comes down to is whether special interests are going to hold the power in Largo or whether that power is going to be in the hands of and for the benefit of the people.
There are lots of ways to say it. One can overpraise and over-criticize. One can use ugly words. But the sane and practical approach is preferred.
What is best for Largo?
With Crozier - a continuation of competent and careful service.
With Holmes - the people will have their champion sitting on the commission.