July 8, 2008

Brown Seeks District 5 County Commission Seat

By Jeremy Morrison, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.

Jul. 8--She's a familiar voice at Bay County Commission meetings,

make it official.

Diane Brown has worn out the carpet leading to the board's public microphone. She consistently peppers the commission with questions, suggestions and criticism. "I am not part of the clique," Brown said.

The Beach resident is running against Commissioner Mike Thomas for the county's District 5 seat. She refers to herself as a "fiscal conservative" and "environmentalist." Brown has not been shy in her battles with the county, both in governmental and legal venues.

" Pe o p l e i n Bay County want change," Brown said. "They're fed up with the way things are going." Brown said she considered the current commission to be overly friendly with outside interests, particularly when new development is concerned. Stressing she isn't anti-development, Brown said she would prefer to see responsible development.

In attendance during more commission meetings than not, Brown holds an opinion on most issues that have come before the board: "I have a whole list. I wish I could boil it down to a few things for you."

On ethics: "We need a strong ethics ordinance. I will elicit support from the community to persuade the other commissioners to convince them it is needed."

On development: "It needs to be in the right place and the right time, and pay for itself."

On using increased wastewater capacity to phase out septic tanks in the Deer Point Lake watershed: "We're not doing that; we're simply giving all the capacity we can to new development."

On participating paving projects, in which residents of a given street pay for its paving: "It's not voluntary; it's mandatory. I've seen people cry up at the podium; I've seen women cry."

On the county's policy of placing liens against unkempt properties and performing the required maintenance: "It discourages growth of natural vegetation. We should be educating the public instead of trying to encourage standards that would lead to more fertilizer and water usage."

Brown is a 14-year resident of Bay County. She retired after 30 years of civil service with the Air Force. Previous local government experience includes a stint on the Bay County Planning Commission.

If elected, Brown said she plans to push for evening meetings and no time limits on public input.


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