Welcome to the Citrus County Concurrent. Oftentimes throughout the last four years, I have started various forms of commentary, from podcasts to blog entries, usually under the title Brace for Impact but have never kept up with it. This is not from a lack of things to say nor is it always from a lack of time or motivation to keep up with it consistently. Usually it’s because the timing isn’t right.
There’s a saying in football that the best back up quarterback is the one you don’t know. The same could be said for political consultants. The candidates are and should always be the star power. Therefore when I have taken on clients in the past, I have chosen to not publish publicly for fear of even the appearance of wanting to share in the spotlight.
My goal with this is to establish a voice outside of political campaigning, more in the realm of public discourse and ideological philosophy, to continue it even when candidates begin filing again soon. You might think that it would be a prudent business decision to remain quiet for fear that an opinion could isolate future clients. Some people may choose not to hire Winsler Consulting because of these columns, that is true, but the harshest I have ever been publicly on someone was Commissioner Scott Carnahan in the wake of the county voting to return fire services under their control in 2017.
I incorporated sound clips from the meeting and accused him of creating a victimhood culture of poor leadership highlighted by the county’s decision on fire services. The podcast received over 800 unique listeners - a number larger than the margin of votes that decided the property appraiser primary election.
This prompted a phone call from the commissioner, who had to actively seek out my number since we had not talked much if ever prior to this, who advised me to not be so negative publicly but rather to speak to him personally if I had such things to say in the future. It wasn’t a threat, but it was a strongly worded caution.
Five months later, Commissioner Carnahan approached me about working together for his re-election campaign. He won a primary despite being outspent 2:1 and cruised through the general election. We remain what I would consider congenial colleagues, maybe even friends, today. The advice he had offered as a cautionary tale ended with a different moral to the story: differences of opinion can be initially combative but wounds heal and relationships can grow stronger for it.
This was not the only time I was told a public opinion I voiced would have been better kept private. About two months ago, I wrote a letter to the editor that was twice published calling on those involved in receiving CARES Act funds for distribution to be more proactive in educating the public as to their plans. I received numerous texts and social media comments once again saying this opinion would have been better voiced in private rather than published publicly. Some even said I had lost my mind.
The next Sunday the CEO of one of the recipient organizations wrote a fantastic guest column published in the Chronicle outlining her plan to lead the distribution efforts that included nearly all of the much needed information. I don’t know if my letter had anything to do with this, probably not, but I do feel like if it did then the public call for such an action helped more than a private one ever would have.
This is why I’m offering an alternative political opinion outlet. The Concurrent isn’t meant to compete with any existing media nor is it meant to be breaking news. It’s a fortification of my own ideas rather than a platform to grow an audience although I do hope you'll find my personal struggles with my own opinions helpful with reconciling yours as well. It is a bi-weekly column of never more than 750 words published to my business website and shared on its social media every Thursday and Sunday.
Merriam-Webster defines concurrent as “acting in conjunction.” These entries are an addition to the public discussion, not a replacement of the strong voices already out there. I write these as an exploration of my own philosophical principle, a concept that you might think should be uncompromising, but that I’ve found to be personally fluid particularly over the last year. Thank you for reading this inaugural entry and starting this journey together.