The Levy County Commission race in District 5 heated up when Cal Byrd announced recently that he will challenge two-term incumbent Danny Stevens for the Democratic party's nomination for the seat.
Byrd has served on the Williston City Council for nearly 25 years. He was a charter member of the Airport Committee, which was established nearly 10 years ago to oversee the growth of Williston's airport and industrial park, and he still serves in that capacity. As a councilman he oversees the utilities department and he also sits on the retirement pension board.
Byrd said that he is concerned about the people in the county who are attempting to start small businesses or to build homes in the area. He contends that there is too much regulation and red tape, which often discourages innovation. He attributes the situation to a lack of contact between the county's elected officials and the people they serve.
He would also strive to make county offices more "user-friendly," more responsive to the needs of the average citizen.
Fiscal responsibility is also a consideration. Byrd cites the additional revenue flowing into the county as a result of the reappraisal of properties and the uses to which it is being put. He also noted the recent passage of Amendment One, and predicted that it is only the first salvo from citizens who feel that they are "taxed to death."
Byrd believes that his many years in city government would serve him well on the commission. He's familiar, he said, with the budgeting process and the planning it takes to stay within the budget. He also cites his often-pivotal role in council decisions, where his is often the voice of moderation; he would expect, he said, to serve the same function on the commission.
Byrd and his wife Laura have been married for 37 years and have five children and two grandchildren. He is retired from the City of Gainesville Fire Department and was for many years involved with the Williston Volunteer Fire Department.
The winner of the District 5 Democratic primary will run against the Republican nominee in the district; at this point the only declared candidate for that spot is retiring Williston councilman Jerry Robinson.
In District 1, Dave Bibby is challenging incumbent Tony Parker in the Democratic primary, while Abraham Blitch has filed as a Republican.
Morriston resident Al Macri will challenge District 3 Commissioner Sammy Yearty as a Democrat. No one else has announced in that district.
The qualifying period is in June and the primaries will be held on Aug. 26. The general election corresponds with national elections on Nov. 4.