Workshop for new commissioners convenes


Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 7:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 7:57 p.m.

New county commissioners elected to boards across the state will convene in Gainesville Wednesday and Thursday to learn more about the basics of local government.

The Florida Association of Counties is hosting its New Commissioner Workshop at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center, a day-and-a-half session that will cover topics ranging from the basics of the state Sunshine Law to ethics rules.

Newly elected Alachua County Commissioners Charles "Chuck" Chestnut IV and Robert "Hutch" Hutchinson will attend.

In the recent presidential election cycle, 98 new commissioners were elected, FAC Communications Director Cragin Mosteller said. A little over 50 percent of them registered in advance to attend the workshop.

"We want to make sure we empower them to make the changes that they were elected to make," she said.

Commissioners who attend the workshop get 6 credit hours that count toward FAC's Certified County Commissioner Program, which helps representatives learn and enhance skills relevant to governing, according to the FAC website.

It is typically completed in 12 to 18 months, she said.

More than 320 commissioners have completed the program, including Alachua County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson and recent but former Commissioners Paula DeLaney and Rodney Long, according to the website.

Chestnut said he plans to participate in the program, while Hutchinson said he is considering it. Given the time commitment and his previous experience on the County Commission, he may opt not to do so.

Chestnut said the coursework will help him gain a better understanding of county government. He said it is important to ensure he has the tools he needs to make his tenure on the board successful.

Graduates of this educational track can also complete the Advanced County Commissioner education program, which focuses on leadership and takes about a year to do, Mosteller said.

Pinkoson, as well as Long, have completed it.

Pinkoson said the Certified County Commissioner program gives participants a chance to spend time with representatives from various counties and learn more about the governing process.

"I was a new commissioner so i found it very interesting because you're elected and you think you understand what all responsibilities you have. The only problem is: You don't," he said. "So what it does is gives you the opportunity to learn about what all the different responsibilities you have as a county commissioner (are)."

Contact Morgan Watkins at 352-338-3104 or morgan.watkins@gvillesun.com.

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