Get to know the Highlands County 2020 Candidates
Kevin Roberts: Candidate for County Commissioner District 1
Kevin Roberts is running for Highlands County Commissioner, District 1. Roberts has lived in Highlands County since 1975. He and his wife Debbie Allison Roberts have been happily married for 47 years. They have three daughters and a son-in-law. Roberts is an active member of Bible Fellowship Church in Sebring and has been for 15+ years. He has a Bachelor’s degree from St. Leo University in 1972, and Master’s degree from Rollins College in 1981. As a hobby, Roberts teaches American History to his grandchildren.
Roberts is also the founder of the Champion for Children Foundation of Highland’s County where thousands of children and their families are supported with different needs each year. After he left the CEO role of this non-profit in 2014, he still has an active role as the Chairman of the Board. Roberts was also the Director of Human Services for Highlands County for sixteen (16) years, from 1991-2007. Roberts gained tremendous insight into the inner workings of county government and is looking forward to be active in county government again.
Robert’s agenda as a County Commissioner is to budget responsibly, keep taxes low, seek more efficiencies with annual budget, support law enforcement and first responders to effectively keep our community safe, support our Veterans Services Department that assists our veterans with their service-connected disabilities, promote business-friendly environment, eliminate unnecessary business regulations, foster private sector businesses in our community, attract and support entrepreneurs, and support our most treasured resources.
Joedene Thayer: Candidate for County Commissioner District 2
Joedene Thayer is a Republican candidate for Highlands County Commission, District 2. She joined the U.S. Army in 1974 while the Vietnam War was ongoing; and after serving for 26 years she retired as a Master Sergeant. Thayer earned her Bachelor’s degree in Technology Management attending night school.
Thayer stated, “I’ve worked the past 13 years for Highlands County; and have advanced from Secretary to Interim Director of Development Services. My driving force is my three grandsons that my daughter Alanna and her husband David have given me. I am vested in making the world the best I possibly can for all of our children. I am an optimist; I believe in the basic good in all human beings and that we create our future by our own actions. I am committed to retaining and improving our quality of life and that includes planning for strategic economic development to bring industry and well-paying jobs to Highlands County. My first priority though is to help our community by implementing the Cares Act!” (The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by the 116th U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in March 2020 in response to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. That money must be used by December 31st, 2020.)
Jeff Carlson: Candidate for County Commissioner District 3
Jeff Carlson is a 5th Generation Floridian who grew up in Sebring and still lives a few miles from his childhood home. His service to the community began when he moved back to Sebring after college. He was first elected to the Sebring City Council in 1998 and served the City for 9 years when he decided to run for County Commission. He was elected in 2008 and served for 2 years.
In his private life, Carlson is a CPA and owner of Carlson Accounting located in Sebring, FL. His parents started the firm in 1986. He has Bachelors degrees in accounting and finance and an MBA. Carlson is engaged to Jessica Skitka of Wauchula and the loving father of 3 children.
Carlson has served as a prior member and Director of the Kiwanis Club of Sebring and the Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council. He has donated his time, money and expertise in many communities and not for profit endeavors including Scoutmaster, Kiwanis Vision Quest, Horses and Handicapped, The Children’s Home Society, Highlands Hammock, Sebring 4th of July Fireworks Committee, the YMCA, Ag Angels, and was Kiwanis Sponsor of the Sebring High School Key Club.
Scott Kirouac: Candidate for County Commissioner District 3
Scott Kirouac is running for Highlands County Commissioner, District 3. Kirouac, with his family, moved to Sebring in 1976 at the age of 14. His parents instilled in him the importance of hard work and helping others. Kirouac has demonstrated these values in his personal, business, and leadership roles during his 44 years as a resident of Highlands County. He is a lifelong conservative Republican with the reputation of being a problem solver while being fiscally responsible. He has been a proven advocate for agriculture for over 20 years on a local, state, and federal level. He has also given back to our community for over 13 years as founder of Ag Angels (agangels.org).
Kirouac wants to continue his path as a respected community leader and pledges to advocate for the agricultural industry, law enforcement and first responders, seniors and veterans, educators and school system, higher-paying employment opportunities through infrastructure development, vocational and technical training programs, protecting our constitutional rights, lower taxes, and responsible spending.
Bobbie Smith-Powell: Candidate for County Commissioner District 3
Bobbie Smith-Powell was raised between Florida and a family-owned farm in Georgia by her grandmother, who taught her the principles of hard work. At an early age, her father’s words rang in her ears, “There is power in Knowledge.” She earned a Bachelor’s in Human Resources, a Master’s in Education, and a Doctorate in Christian Education. Other than working four years as a social worker, and owning and operating a restaurant in Sebring for six years, her entire adult life has been working in an educational setting. She’s a voting member of Children’s Services Council of Highlands County, a board member of the Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland, Inc., a member of Agriculture and Labor Program, Inc., a Certified Florida Teacher, a Civil Rights Activist, the co-founder and co-pastor of The Living Body of Christ, Inc. and the LBC Food Ministry, the co-founder of Heads, Hearts, & Hands of Heartland, Inc., a member of Highway Park Ministerial Alliance, an ordained minister, an inspirational/public speaker, a workshop facilitator, a licensed all-lines adjuster in Florida, a daughter, a mother, a stepmother, a grandmother, a step-granddaughter, and the wife of Anthony Powell, Sr.
Smith-Powell will work to steer resources to address the need for a shelter for the homeless, address housing issues, fight poverty, explore solar energy opportunities, and invest in educational opportunities to train the workforce to perform jobs such as working on solar-powered energy and CERT Teams to assist EMS throughout the county.
Chris Campbell: Candidate for County Commissioner District 5
Chris Campbell’s parents moved to Florida when he was three-years-old. Florida has been home to him for over 40 years. Campbell and his family have lived in Highlands County since 2009. He graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management. Campbell is a small business owner, having owned his own insurance agency for over 19 years. Campbell stated, “My beautiful wife of 22 years, Linda, is a second-grade teacher at Lake Placid Elementary School. We have two boys; our boys have grown up in the Highlands County public school system.”
Campbell’s top priorities include attracting industries to Highlands County to create more jobs with better pay, increasing the availability of affordable housing, expanding Vocational/Technical programs. improving our roads and infrastructure, supporting the Ag community, supporting law enforcement & first responders (a 14-year business member of the Fl. Sheriff’s Assoc.), supporting our county’s educators and veterans. (Campbell’s grandfather was a WWII veteran and a Purple Heart recipient).
Campbell stated, “I will be an actively engaged Commissioner who uses a common-sense approach to address the challenges we face. My goal is to get the best results for our residents in every decision we make. As a business owner for almost twenty years, I have learned to build relationships with all types of people, with a variety of opinions. Although we may not agree on every issue, I will work hard to make sure we find a common ground.“
Gregory Harris: Candidate for County Commissioner District 5
Commissioner Harris is a native Floridian who has lived in Sebring for 35 years. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and came to Highlands County in 1985 with his father to develop and operate the Country Club of Sebring. Commissioner Harris has served as District 5 County Commissioner since 2010 and is certified as a County Commissioner and Advanced County Commissioner by the Florida Association of Counties.
Commissioner Harris has a diverse and well-rounded background as it pertains to the management and sustainability of business operations. Some of his past experiences include Community Association Manager, Real Estate Broker, Class C Utility Operator, Certified Food Manager, State Residential Contractor, President and CEO of the Greater Sebring Chamber of Commerce, and CEO of The Highlands County Family YMCA. He attends Bible Fellowship Church and serves as a member of the Sebring Firemen, Inc. He also holds the high distinction of Eagle Scout.
2019-2020 BOARD AND COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS: Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, FHERO - Voting Member, Heartland Regional Transportation, Planning Organization - Voting Member, Historic Preservation Commission Value Adjustment Board - Voting Member, Hospital District Board, Public Safety Coordinating Committee - Voting Member
Vicki Pontius: Candidate for County Commissioner District 5
Vicki Pontius is running for County Commissioner, District 5. She has lived in Sebring for 49 years and is a graduate of Sebring High School and SFSC. She also earned her Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hodges University, graduating Summa Cum Laude.
Pontius retired from the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners after more than 35 years of service. She began her career in 1983. Over the years, she continued her formal education, married, and raised two children. Both daughters also graduated from Sebring High School, completed their college degrees, and are raising their own families here. She and her husband Rick, have been married for 35 years.
During her career with Highlands County, Pontius managed several large departments, supervised more than 50 employees, and performed nearly every governmental function including budget preparation, grant writing, strategic planning, and supervision/management.
"I have a behind-the-scenes look at how the government runs and operates. I know what it takes to cut through the red tape to get things accomplished" Pontius says.
If elected, Pontius will strive for smaller government and lower taxes while working to keep Highlands County a great place to work and play.
Jerome Kaszubowski: Candidate for Clerk of Courts and Comptroller
A Deputy Clerk for more than 30 years, Kaszubowski is Clerk of Courts Business Services Senior Director, overseeing Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Official Records, Tax Deeds, Marriage Licenses, Payroll (Clerk and Board), and Information Technology (Clerk, Board, Tax Collector, and Supervisor of Elections). He was Information Technology Director from 1993-2008 and Systems Analyst/Programmer from 1986-1992.
Kaszubowski holds an Associate’s in Accountancy, a Bachelor’s in Technology, and is a Certified Governmental Chief Information Officer. He graduated from Leadership Highlands, is in leadership at The Ministry Center, is former President of Heartland Christian School, and former Treasurer of First Baptist Church of Lake Josephine. Kaszubowski’s family has a history of public service. He is happily married to his wife Margaret; they have three children and five grandchildren.
Kaszubowski plans to improve community outreach, expenditure transparency, court system student education, and the jury duty system. Facilitating consolidations, he saved millions of dollars. Kaszubowski protects sensitive court, property, and financial records while managing budget, county finances/investments, human resources, technology, and plays a significant role in all major court-related projects.
Don Elwell: Candidate for Clerk of Courts and Comptroller
Since 2010, Don Elwell has served as Highlands County Commissioner, working tirelessly be the most responsive, accountable, and transparent elected representative during his tenure. Named “Florida’s Best Local Elected Official” in 2019 for his efforts in helping his community during and after Hurricane Irma, Don Elwell continues to help his constituents daily by distributing information in regard to the COVID-19 crisis
Elwell has over 30 Years’ award-winning leadership experience along with a Bachelor’s Degree from FAU in Accounting, with minors in Finance & Management. He was named President of his Leadership Highlands class, even invited to teach leadership to the past several classes. Commissioner Elwell has immersed himself in this incredible community – volunteering at dozens of events annually and currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army, the United Way and many others. He has been recognized as “Citizen of the Year” recently by both the United Way and the Sebring Chamber of Commerce.
If elected, Elwell plans to pair his extensive leadership experience along with a fresh pair of eyes to join with the existing Clerk team to further improve customer service, enhancing the Clerk’s digital presence and investing to securely maintain the county’s sensitive records.
Candidates unable to be reached but are running for offices are:
County Commissioner District 1:
Carmelo E Garcia
County Commissioner District 2:
Shird Moore II
Kathleen G Rapp
Sun N Lake of Sebring Board of Supervisors:
Clerk of Courts and Comptroller:
W Kyle Green
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