A Villager who describes himself as a fiscal conservative hopes to bring that same philosophy to the Fruitland Park Commission.
John Mobilian, who lives in the Village of Pine Hills, hopes to become the first District 2 commissioner from The Villages. He said it’s important that Villages residents elect someone who will have their best interests at heart to serve on the commission.
“We all worked hard for everything we have and don’t throw our money away,” he said. “We don’t want our government to throw it away, either.”
Mobilian said Villagers who live in both Fruitland Park and Lake County are the “highest taxed residents” in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
“Up until this year, we (had) no representation,” he said.
Mobilian cited a recent Villages-News.com article about the city’s annual audit, which showed a net position increase of $2.2 million in 2017 with an unassigned fund balance – money that is not restricted or committed – of $471,116 in the general fund.
“Most of this overage was directly due to the residents of The Villages,” he said. “As such, we should also be actively involved in ensuring that our taxes and other income streams into the city will benefit Villagers, as well as the entirety of Fruitland Park.”
Mobilian, who lives at 3735 Conservation Trail, said he’d also like to see the commission take another action that would save taxpayers’ money.
“I would expect to see our millage rates decrease as the tax base increases, much like we saw for Marion and Sumter Counties,” he said, “which so far has not been the case.”
The four-year Air Force veteran and former Federal Express airline captain said he’s in favor of budgeting more money for hiring police officers and increasing benefits for city workers. He called those two things “critical” given the growth rate of the city because of the new homes in the Villages of Pine Hills and Pine Ridge.
“I would also want to ensure that other public services are sufficient to take care of the growth explosion, such as the water/sewer management,” he said, adding that he believes Fruitland Park’s current capacities have been strained. “What I would not want to see happen is that a long ‘wish list’ is not implemented to absorb the large influx of capital and therefore maintain higher budget costs and related millage rates.”
Mobilian, who along with wife Mary Ann moved to The Villages from Ponte Vedra Beach in February 2017, said he’s always been “passionate” about politics, and now that he’s retired, he has the time to act on his dream of serving others.
“I discovered that the City of Fruitland Park was actually the fastest-growing city from 2016-17, according to the Census Bureau, but we didn’t have any representation on the commission,” he said. “Since I believe that we should all do our part to serve our communities, I decided I would be honored to represent District 2.”
Mobilian, who has served on boards for charities such as Navy Appreciation and organized hundreds of volunteers for a UNICEF event, said he’s thrilled to be a resident of Florida’s Friendliest Hometown and to possibly have a chance to give back to the community.
“My wife and I have a profound sense of community here at The Villages and feel it would be an honor to serve our neighbors,” he said. “I would be humbled to have this opportunity and will do my best to represent our best interests.”
Mobilian is running against Fred Collins (3069 Brinson Lane) and August Kellerman (2982 Kramer Court) for the District 2 seat currently held by Commissioner Ray Lewis. The three candidates will compete in the Aug. 28 Primary Election, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the General Election on Nov. 6.
Lewis was elected in November 2014 at the same time voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to divide the city into five districts. Since he doesn’t live in District 2, he can’t run for the post again.
The winner of the District 2 race will join fellow Villager Patrick DeGrave on the commission in November. DeGrave was the only candidate to file for the District 1 seat currently held by Commissioner Rick Ranize and will officially join the commission in November. Like Lewis, Ranize was elected in November 2014 and is ineligible to run again for the seat again because he doesn’t live in District 1.