Roads are among the most asked about topics on the campaign trail this cycle, but even more than residential road resurfacing, the turnpike extension is the focus of discussion. The county commission hosts a public workshop, which means no voting is allowed, regarding the turnpike extension on Tuesday.
Commissioner Jeff Kinnard echoed a position that some other commissioners have when he told the Chronicle, “I don’t want to go into that meeting with my heels dug in on one position.”
In contrast, Commissioner Scott Carnahan has embraced the “no build” philosophy.
To quickly outline the project and exactly what no build means, the turnpike extension is an east/west connector road. This is different from the parkway extension, which is a north/south connector that recently opened at 44 and is scheduled to extend to 486, and eventually, all the way to I-10.
The two northernmost proposed routes of the turnpike extension do not cross into Citrus County at all. However, taking the no build position as Commissioner Carnahan has done is to reject all four proposed routes for the turnpike extension, regardless of if they travel through Citrus County or not.
Commissioner Kinnard’s wait-and-see mentality is the right one to have, though many candidates - including Tod Cloud who I represent in the election - are decidedly no build. To understand how I can justify working for someone who differs from me on this critical issue, the previous column needs to be briefly summarized.
Thursday’s piece argued that political beliefs have become an identity more than ideology. We display our beliefs through virtue signaling agreement with others rather than adherence to principle. This is true regardless of which side of the political spectrum you are.
Liberalism is suffering an identity crisis that those on the outside of the ideology call “woke” but that is more of a co-opted definition for what passes as progressivism. Some conservatives' blind allegiance to authoritarian decisions made by those in the executive branches of our nation and our state over the last several years has put our own value of principle into question.
This definition of ideology as identity that grows with agreement is why the Concurrent never sought to become known as a conservative publication in the county. The Concurrent doesn’t seek agreement with our positions.
I strive to teach critical thinking through the introduction of academic concepts and the provocation of new perspectives in the context of local current affairs to challenge the way you think.
That approach is inconsistent with the current conservative (or progressive) climate that generates value solely on how passionately you can agree with the majority’s talking points regardless of their consistency with ideological principles and how creatively you can tear down those who disagree with your side’s opinions.
This brings us back to the no build argument. How can I work for Tod Cloud, who embraces the no build philosophy, when I personally hold the belief of Commissioner Kinnard’s wait-and-see approach? Two simple reasons.
The first is that I don’t make policy for the county. Who am I to say the no builders are wrong and I am right? I certainly hope I’m right, but I recognize the possibility that there is a convincing argument against any extension of the road.
This is the job of the voters to decide. While the no build crowd has been by far the more vocal, I truly believe the election will send a message to policy makers which side the county is leaning.
The second simple reason that is so often overlooked is that perfect agreement with a candidate is as ill-advised as perfect agreement with an ideology. You are either begging to be lied to or lying to yourself if you support someone thinking they have the exact same views on every stance as you.
I disagree with Tod’s stance on this issue and proudly back him as a candidate for the same reason I don’t use the term conservative to describe the Concurrent but proudly consider myself to be one: it’s about more than blanket agreement.
And at the end of the day, the no build philosophy may end up being correct either because the information in Tuesday’s workshop demonstrated that the state does not have the justification to build the road or because the will of the voters will send that message this November.
It takes courage to stand on delayed conviction in a culture where agreement is demanded above all else. Hopefully Tuesday’s workshop will be educational and informative.