The primary election that will settle all Dade County's contested political races this year is next Tuesday, May 24. Those races are few and far between—there are, not to put too fine a point on it, five—but from the imperceptible amount of campaigning going on in some quarters, you might be forgiven for thinking they were even fewer.
That's why The Planet called the Dade Board of Elections and asked if any of the local candidates had withdrawn. Answer: No. Then The Planet, not being the subtle type, also called Dade County Executive candidate Wes Hixon to ask if he had. Answer: Also no.
"As far as going out and knocking on doors, I haven't done any of that," said the candidate by telephone from the Wildwood office of his
Wes Hixon at Dade's KWN-sponsored April 16 candidate debate safari and big-game
hunting company, Wes Hixson Outdoor Adventure and Travel.
The Planet pointed out that Hixon's candidacy has not been particularly visible: Since qualifying for the race, Hixon has not appeared at any meeting of the Dade County Commission that as county executive he proposes to lead. Nor has he been seen waving Vote For Me signs on the Trenton square or taking any other such opportunity to woo voters.
Hixon explained he'd been having a good year business-wise and was working late at the office even as he spoke. Anyway, he said: "One thing I've discerned is I'm not really a politician."
But he's shown faithfully up at all meet-the-candidate and debate opportunities he's been invited to, said Hixon, and he plans to attend the 11th-hour debate local radio/TV station KWN is sponsoring this Saturday night at its Highway 11 North studio.
The Planet asked Hixon if he'd received any flak from the stand he took at the first KWN debate on April 16 in favor of zoning, which in Dade County has traditionally been as popular as leprosy. Hixon said he had, as a matter of fact, been told that his "political career in Dade County was over," a notion which afforded him a certain sour amusement him since he wasn't aware he'd had one.
But Hixon did step up to seize the opportunity to elaborate on his zoning position:
He himself lives on a big, rural piece of property and doesn't want anybody telling him what to do with it, he said. He shoots his high-powered rifles on it, mows the grass when he feels like it, and doesn't care to be told how many cars he can park on his own land.
But when, years ago, a Chattanooga company wanted to buy a portion of the old Dave L. Brown farm in Wildwood and put a dump on it, he was firmly opposed, said Hixon, and he will be firmly opposed to any other venture that will destroy his property value.
"I will be damned if I want to spend $250,000 and 17 months building my house and then have someone put up a gravel pit or a junkyard or a hog pen across from it,” said Hixon.
These are commonsense matters, said Hixon, and he has no intention to let Dade's allergy to the Z-word impose a gag order on his common sense. He intends to speak his mind, said Hixon, and if it hurts him politically: “I frankly don’t give two hoots in hell if I am or am not elected.”
Manning the Dade Board of Elections on Wednesday, Tracy Street confirmed that Hoot Deficiency Syndrome has also been rife among voters this year. In early primary voting, which opened May 2, only 23 Democratic ballots and 665 Republican ones have been cast so far. Senior election board members had expected heavier turnout, said Street.
The cutoff for early voting is this Friday, May 20, said Street, but the board has decided to keep the polls open until 5 p.m. rather than closing at 2 p.m. with the rest of the county offices.