Mitchell Wills believes that a lifetime of working for Hendry County at various levels from a $5.99 an hour entry level to his present position as Assistant Director of Facilities, along with his many other life experiences, have molded him into a great candidate for county commissioner. Combined with many years as a youth coach and a church leader, Mitch feels ready to take on this new challenge.
In his first attempt at running for elected office, Mitch is seeking County Commissioner for District 3.
Born in Clewiston and raised in LaBelle, Mitch is a product of the area he loves. He graduated from LaBelle High School.
Mitch started out as an equipment operator for Road and Bridge, moving on to facilities, including buildings and grounds and five cemeteries. For the past 17 years he has helped work through the department’s challenging budget.
His involvement in levels of county business has increased over the years and he said he is at a point now where he believes he has a lot to contribute to running the county.
He believes that change needs to start at the top, but bears no malice toward anyone in the county government. He just believes he can be useful in making it work better for everyone.
He does feel that county employees have been overlooked by the administration - that they are due for improved benefits. He said he’s also seen a trend toward outsourcing services like custodial and mowing/maintenance. He said he’s seen other counties try outsourcing as a cost-saving technique and it doesn’t work. They found themselves dealing with scheduling issues and even higher costs. Productivity was down and service suffered.
“Employees need security,” he said. “The elected officials are there to serve those who elected them and the employees.”
He does not aspire to be a politician, he said, but a public servant by listening to what the community says. “They need a voice,” he said, and he wants to fill that void.
It’s the commissioners’ job to look at that public voice objectively, he notes.
Many people know Mitch from over 20 years as a Pop Warner and Little League coach and his influence continues to touch the lives of the boys he worked with for so long.
He has been at Christ Center for seven years as a worship leader and minister there for four.
Known for his service, honesty and objectivity as a pastor, he believes those traits transfer perfectly to the job of commissioner. Both jobs are tough, he realizes, and 24/7, but he’s up to the task and says his decisions as a commissioner would be based on fact, not gossip.
One of the county’s big challenges, he believes, is getting a stable budget. He thinks the county needs to address the way it spends money, making sure to get the most out of its appropriations. There are a lot of great ideas out there, he said, but the county has to be realistic and stay true to its agricultural heart.
He believes the way to better government is through getting the people and the employees involved.
One of the common complaints he hears about county officials is that people “never see them.” If he is elected, one of his goals is to be involved in his district, yes, but also in the county as a whole. Commissioners, he said, need to be aware of the entire county’s needs, not just their own district.
If elected he will have to retire as an employee of the commission, but could seek employment with another county department, such as the school board or sheriff’s office.
Running for county commissioner is something Mitch has talked and dreamed of for years. His philosophy is: “Make a difference while we’re here - it’s really all about everyone else.”
Mitch and his wife, Tina - a 7-8th grade math teacher at West Glades School - have two grown boys and four grandchildren.
“I want people to know I’m real.” He points out that Hendry County is not falling apart. He just wants to help it grow into its future. He is not in favor of reinventing the wheel, just making the ride better. “I will be the difference,” he said.