Kenneth C. Diaz running for HC commission

A thirty-plus year resident, Ken Diaz feels he has a mission to leave Hendry County better than he found it. For him, the way to his goal is to serve as a county commissioner.

Running for the District 2 commission seat as a non-partisan, Ken has some very definite ideas about where the county is and where it should be.

Much of his concern centers around the county’s economic future, particularly as Airglades Airport could pertain to it.

Big plans are on tap for the airport – possibly even becoming an international hub for distributing commodities to much of the country. Hopes are that this small airport could blossom into a huge contributor to the success of the county and its residents.

For Ken, the issue is not the airport’s potential, but the county’s plan to sell it to a private company.

The airport, he reasons, has the capacity to open up the future to Hendry’s residents. Selling it would make no sense. It would divert the lion’s share of profits from the county to a few private residents.

He is sure that, if the county commission does its research and is serious about running the airport, it can do the best job of developing Airglades for the betterment of the county its residents.

To date, Ken says no US airports have ever been sold to private investors and does not want to see this county make what he sees as a mistake. After working for some 10 years as a fireman at Miami International Airport, Ken is very familiar with how it pumps millions of dollars into the Miami economy. As owners of Airglades, he said the county could control growth on the airport and dictate how growth would occur around it. He also believes the county could increase the number of jobs the airport could provide from 800 to 1,000’s.

Another under-appreciated Hendry County asset is the Caloosahatchee River. Ken feels the county is not taking full advantage of its possibilities. If the county purchased the old Belle Hatchee Marina, and the city could make a go of the proposed 126-acre just east of it, Ken sees a huge asset-in-the-making for the entire area. As a commissioner, he said he would look into grants to purchase the marina.

“I believe we have something very special there,” he asserts, and wants to be part of making it all happen. He added that the county “should extend its vision and end up where we cannot see now. Even if it costs residents, if we plan for the future we will always come out ahead.”

He believes he can help the county plan in such a way as to be able to both build infrastructure and respond to immediate needs. We need to be proactive and work toward being prepared to deal with whatever lies ahead, he said.

Of course, quality jobs for residents is a key ingredient to economic success and security. If we can attract these jobs, he said, we can develop into something special here.

Ken also said that Hendry County residents are saddled with extra high property taxes totaling over 20 mils, which include various MSBUs – service areas for things like lighting, streets, drainage and so on.

A robust economic engine like an expanded Airglades Airport and fully utilized river area would go a long way toward building a healthy and sustainable economic base that would alleviate residents’ tax burden, he reasons.

Ken realizes that Hendry County is on the cusp of changing economically, moving on from the traditional agriculture base.

With water issues so prominently in our future, he said the county commission must research every issue because these decisions are “bigger than all of us” and have far-reaching ramifications.

If elected, Ken says he will do the job to the best of his ability. He said he wants to open up new lines of communication with constituents and expand the county’s ability to disseminate pertinent information. He wants to utilize social media like Facebook or other platforms.

Looking at recent years, Ken said the county’s worst decision has been to sell Airglades to private interests; its best decision was to rezone and develop the property around it. We are years ahead of ourselves in the decision to rezone to support our airport, he said.

Ken also said he believes strongly in term limits for politicians and promises that if he is elected county commissioner he will serve for no more than two terms. He feels that integrity and an ability to research issues are the strongest characteristic he brings to the table.

In the end he said, “We need to invest in our people, be aware of our future and understand the value of our community.”

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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