The Osceola News-Gazette believes it’s important for our readers to learn more about the local candidates wishing to represent them.

In the days leading up to the Aug. 28 primaries, we will run responses from candidates running for the following local public offices – Osceola County Commission, Kissimmee City Commission, St. Cloud City Council and the Osceola County School Board.

All candidates running these races were emailed questions a few weeks ago, and responses from those who met our deadline are shown below.

Cheryl Grieb

Democrat

Occupation: County commissioner and Realtor

What are your top priorities if you’re elected?

Infrastructure (primarily roads), environment and public safety.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of Osceola County’s

Grieb

continued growth?

Keeping up with past, current and future infrastructure needs.

What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for Osceola County residents?

Safe, decent, affordable housing is a need in Osceola County. We have created a $1 million fund for builders looking to create affordable housing to apply for funding to pay for fees, such as mobility fees, or the funds can be used to help purchase land for affordable units. Osceola County also has funds for renters to help them pay for up-front dollars needed in order to secure affordable rental units.

Thousands of Hurricane Maria evacuees arrived in Osceola County last year. Many have since said they intend to stay in the area. What role do you see these citizens playing in Osceola County’s future and what role should government play in assisting evacuees with this transition?

Osceola County was proactive when the displaced individuals from Hurricane Maria started to arrive in our county. We opened a reception center to provide local resources to the evacuees. Under the guidance of Osceola County Human Services, partners included Council on Aging, Community Hope Center – IDignity, Osceola Community Health Services, Community Vision, Park Place Behavioral Health Care, Osceola County Human Services, Health Insurance Store, Florida Department of Health, Osceola County School District, LYNX, Career Source, Goodwill Industries, Family Physicians Group, Cornerstone Hospice, Valencia State College and Carrousel Therapy Center.

When it comes to the tourism industry, what can local government do to attract new business investments and opportunities while still addressing the needs of current residents?

As it relates to tourism, I feel we are already on the right track. Not only has Experience Kissimmee done a great job of putting Kissimmee on the map and making a name for us around the U.S. but is doing the same in several countries as well. The county set up the West 192 Development Authority which is responsible for overseeing all the programs and projects related to planning, coordinating, implementing and managing the redevelopment and revitalization of the W192 tourism district.

What motivated you to run for this position?

I believe in giving back to your community. I truly enjoyed working for the citizens of the city of Kissimmee as a city commissioner helping to improve the quality of life here, and wanted to continue my service as a county commissioner. I ran in 2014 and was elected to serve as district 4 commissioner. I love this district as I engage with not only county residents but, residents of the city of Kissimmee and the city of St. Cloud. I truly feel I have the best district but don’t tell my fellow commissioners!

What experience do you bring?

I have been in Osceola County since second grade. Not only have I grown up here, I have grown two businesses and been active in the community. I was one of the founding members of Habitat for Humanity of Osceola County, I served on the Osceola County Parks and Recreation Committee in my 20s, served as a CRA commissioner, served two terms as a city of Kissimmee commissioner and have been involved in several local nonprofits and committees. I also bring a unique perspective as a local realtor who is not only familiar with residential trends but holds a CCIM designation for commercial real estate as well.

What is the biggest obstacle facing Osceola County’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?

I feel one of our biggest obstacles is not having a diverse economy. We mainly have tourism on the west side of town and agriculture on the east side of town. Neither have a lot of high wage positions. Osceola County has again been proactive in looking to the future and looking at how we can attract higher wage jobs. The creation of NeoCity and the construction of the sensor facility run by the consortium, BRIDG, is one way we are bringing high wage jobs to Osceola County. While not everyone wants to be a biochemist or specialized engineer, there are a range of other technical positions that pay around $80,000 per year plus jobs that will come from the supply chain this venture will create. A partnership with Valencia birthed the Valencia College Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. Individuals can take courses there and learn a skill that will result in a much greater wage than Osceola County’s average annual income of $34,030.

Adam Michelin

Republican

Occupation: CEO of an acquisition firm

What are your top priorities if you’re elected?

• Reduce county general funding by $13 million.

• Reduce sales tax and eliminate second local option fuel tax (no rain tax).

• Increase mobility fees for all new residential developments.

Michelin

Require county residence for county employees (home rule).

• Improve county roads.

• Sell or transfer NeoCity.

• Eliminate wasteful projects like PRCA Rodeo and NeoCity’s Administration building.

• Release $31 million reserve funds.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of Osceola County’s continued growth?

Roads and support infrastructure, taxes and water.

What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for Osceola County residents?

Zoning that requires higher density housing. Government should not be in the housing business.

Thousands of Hurricane Maria evacuees arrived in Osceola County last year. Many have since said they intend to stay in the area. What role do you see these citizens playing in Osceola County’s future and what role should government play in assisting evacuees with this transition?

First, we need a firm count on how many evacuees are still residing in our county. Second, we need to work alongside our state and federal agencies to ensure we streamline the delivery of services to qualified recipients and to minimize duplication of efforts (limit fraud, waste and abuse).

When it comes to the tourism industry, what can local government do to attract new business investments and opportunities while still addressing the needs of current residents?

If we provide a safe, well managed county, investment will follow. This area is a magnet because of the destination sites which are already here.

Additionally, supporting our legislature’s push to expand the use of Tourist Development Tax dollars (TDT) would assist in expanding infrastructure and emergency services concerns in the West 192 corridor which would be beneficial to our residents.

What motivated you to run for this position?

County government is out of control and not meeting the needs of its residents. No one, except these commissioners, would spend $122 million without a detailed business plan.

What experience do you bring?

I have successfully run billion-dollar companies and turned around mismanaged companies. These are skills lacking in the current board.

I have served on boards of public, not-for-profit and private companies. I know what it takes to run a successful organization.

I was a partner with KPMG; an accounting firm where I consulted city and county governments.

What is the biggest obstacle facing Osceola County’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?

• Proper zoning density for population.

• Investing appropriately on roads and infrastructure to support growth.

• Insuring adequate fresh water and its associated cost.