Republican County Commissioner Joseph Tiseo speaks to Democrats

Even though he is a Republican, Joseph Tiseo was glad to accept the invitation from DEC Chairman Patrick Hurley to address Charlotte County Democrats at their monthly meeting. Tiseo talked about how, without knowing it, he had received a recommendation from Charlotte County Dems in 2016 when he ran for office for the first time.

Running for County Commission District 5, Tiseo was campaigning three years ago when a voter approached and told him, “I voted for you. You are on my palm card.” Tiseo was surprised. “I didn’t know I was on any palm card.”

The Republican checked the card and saw it was printed by the Charlotte Democratic Party. Tiseo visited the Democratic office to ask whether there had been a mistake. He learned that although he indeed got a Democratic “recommendation,” he did not get a Democratic “endorsement.”

Tiseo says a desire to “give back to the community” led him to volunteer on several county committees. After serving on a landscaping committee and the zoning board, he decided to run for Commission. Tiseo gathered enough petition signatures to qualify. Tiseo says he self-financed his campaign and is proud that he can be independent of special interests. Commenting about money, power, and influence in politics, Tiseo claimed, “I’m not a lap dog”. “You may not like my position, but I’m not influenced by anybody.”

Tiseo touched on future development and growth, providing affordable housing, and the role of government. He noted Charlotte County is beginning to experience rapid population growth as baby boomers come here to retire. However, many county neighborhoods and roads were not designed to accommodate the traffic. Joseph said the Commission has received a sharp increase in demands for “traffic calming,” in other words, reducing traffic volume and speed. However, he says, government is limited in guiding where development can occur because “people have property rights.”

Tiseo says total housing costs for a family should be within 30% of the household’s income. For Charlotte County families, monthly housing costs should be $700 to $900. Rents, however, are above $1,000. There is a need for affordable housing but  “the county is not in the housing business.” However, he says, the county can create “policies to make it cheaper to build affordable housing.” Tiseo noted a new state law to allow counties to waive impact fees on affordable housing. That would save $4,300. Another approach would be to donate abandoned lots acquired when property taxes are not paid. Tiseo says the lots can be donated to an organization instead of being auctioned.

Tiseo discussed the role of government and the difficulty of finding a balance between government overreach or the need for government action. He asked, “When is there too much government or not enough?”