published: Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Handley: Year in office gives him a leg up
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Ron Handley is running for the District 3 seat on the Highlands County Commission.
Currently the incumbent, Handley was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to fill the seat in 2011. He is running for the first time in his own right.
"It gave me a year to see if I liked it," he said of his year in office. "I feel it gives me a leg up with how (county staff and the commission) deal with things."
Handley said he is a true Floridian, and has lived in Highlands for 54 of his 58 years. He was the in the first class to attend the "new" Sebring High School on Kenilworth Boulevard in 1972, he said. Wally Cox, superintendent of schools, was a classmate.
"My wife Patty and I had four kids. Three still reside here. We have six grandkids and a large extended family. We have a vested interest in the county," Handley said.
While he majored in agricultural economics at the University of Florida, when he returned home Handley went into construction. In 1984, he said, he opened his own business, Houses by Handley. For 32 years, he has been building custom homes and small commercial projects. He added he has done pro bono construction work for the community, like helping build a thrift shop for Nu-Hope in Lake Placid, and heading the renovation of Firemen's Field.
Handley said as a business man who has dealt from the citizen side with government, he is committed to making county offices more customer oriented. "We evolved from a one-stop shop to a bureaucratic monster," he said. "The biggest thing is the customer. (Staff) need to remember who they work for."
The core of his approach to sitting on the board of commissioners, Handley said, "is try to bring common sense and good economics to make sound decisions, while being transparent to the public."
Like everyone running for office this year, he warns of continuing financial problems.
"We're dealing with less and less money," he said. "Our funds are down $26 million since 2006. Our employees have gone three to four years without a raise, and we're still trying to provide services. It's a balancing act, because we're mandated by law to balance our budget."
He said the county may have to postpone the purchase of new equipment and reduce its support for not-for-profit groups. He says every county department has to look again for savings, and that it might come down to getting rid of a position. "Through attrition," he added, "we're getting by with less staff; doing more with less."
He said the current commission had "cut way back on the sheriff's request for a big building. The county will only build a property and evidence building next year, and might add on to the jail."
He thinks there are savings in Phase III of the Parkway by using in-house personnel instead of consultants.
Retirement, agriculture and construction, remain the backbone of the county, he said, so county services should be oriented to retirees. He supports tax abatement as a business draw, but feels each case must be looked at independently.
"Change is going to happen, so you just try to make it as good as you can," he said.
Winning an election. (by: Seb Res - 8/9/2012)
If Susie wins she gets a large slice of the pie... if Ron wins too, his slice is smaller but he married into money anyway.
Had Enough (by: Bad - 8/9/2012)
I think its time to show the Commissioners who the work for.
Ron Handley (by: Dot Q - 8/9/2012)
Rick Helms gets a fantastic retirement , was way to expensive, and was so ingrained in govt. (as many are) belived himself untouchable.. The truth is many want a responsive commissioner who can and will make spending cuts and never raise anyones taxes.This means expensive people have to go...
He's not getting my vote! (by: Wildflower - 8/8/2012)
He will not get my vote either. To make a statement "Staff needs to remember who their boss is". I have always known who my boss is, and I have always put them first, since customer service is a pet pev of mine. He has never been to our department since he has been in office, how would he know? Maybe he needs to be grabbed by the nose and lead around? He is another "GOOD OLD BOY" I thought we were trying to get rid of them.
Handley (by: Yep me - 8/8/2012)
been around him several times i think we dont need another d----k in county office u fill in the blanks
No Homes by Handley (by: In The Know - 8/8/2012)
Since home construction is down, guess momma bear has advised her cub Ron and his sister Suzie to get into politics. What a good way to suppliment the income and get a piece of the public's pie like she did.
Ron Handley (by: Highlands county resd. - 8/8/2012)
Omg!!!!, you ruined yourself when you stood with the two old buzzards and fired Ricky, no vote from me either, i think it's a safe bet to say just pack your junk up now and go home.
Arrogance (by: Tom - 8/8/2012)
I agree with Beerbelly 100%. To not even give us a reason for the termination, instead hiding behind "It's for his own good" is BS, pure and simple. I have no respect for any public official that is dishonest and not forthcoming about their decisions. I only hope a LOT of people remember that decision. It spoke volumes to me.
Ricky Helms (by: Beerbelly - 8/8/2012)
You lost my vote after firing Ricky Helms. If you win the election Ron, it won't be from my vote. There was no reason to fire Rick. The Commission should have let him finish his term and let him retire. It was a very bad decision. How many more are up your sleeve Ron ? From what I understand the firing was strictly from an on-going grudge.
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