One Sumter: let the games begin
EDITORIAL Courtesy of The Citrus County Chronicle Online
Published September 2, 2003

Well, the decision has been made. Now Sumter County residents will see how it plays out.

The majority of local voters believe Sumter County will best be served by having their county commissioners elected by all the voters rather than only the voters within the districts that each county commissioner represents.

That's the result of a controversial referendum question, known as One Sumter, that appeared on the primary ballot and was supported by voters.

There wasn't much middle ground on this issue as supporters of the ballot issue and opponents attempted to sway voters to their side. The issue created one of the strongest political fights in the county.

Supporters have said that at-large voting proposed by One Sumter provides for a more democratic election, allowing voters throughout the county to elect all county commissioners.

Opponents have said One Sumter is merely a ploy by management of The Villages to take over control of the County Commission.

We agreed that the One Sumter proposal is a bad idea for Sumter County and gives too much power to The Villages.

The passage of this issue shows just how much influence Sumter County residents can expect to content with from The Villages.

Since the initiative will take effect in the 2006 election, it will be county commissioners Joey Chandler and Jim Roberts who will feel the impact of One Sumter.

We don't believe that's coincidental either.

Chandler and Roberts have been seen as thorns in the sides of some Village issues. The two commissioners have been repeatedly criticized and ridiculed in The Villages media for not supporting various Village agendas.

If One Sumter was actually started as a means of getting back at these two commissioners and attempting to unseat them, as we believe, then that will be played out during the 2006 election season.

Our expectation is that sympathetic Village candidates will be after the commission seats held by Chandler and Roberts.

We also believe that Sumter County's political voice has been changed forever - and not for the better.