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1. In recent years, the mayor and City Council have used a mix of revenue increases and cuts in expenses to balance the city budget. Do you agree? If not, what would you do differently? I do not agree with this approach and will not support property tax hikes or increased fees. When times were good City Council effectively raised taxes and spending by taking advantage of rapidly increasing property values. Now when times are bad City Council raises taxes by increasing the millage rate. The truth is that times are very bad right now and our City Council needs to recognize this fact. Unemployment remains near 12% and is unlikely to decrease substantially until the housing market recovers, a process that could take a number of years (some experts believe that housing prices could continue to decline by as much as another 15-20%). Foreclosures are at a record high, 44% of homeowners with mortgages are under water and we’re second in the nation in bankruptcy filings. If this isn’t the time for an austerity budget when will that time ever come? If the city had been prudent in managing its finances in the years leading up to the current crisis perhaps we’d be able to weather this storm without too much disruption. Unfortunately, years of mismanagement driven by politically expedient decision making have left the city’s finances in shambles. Now it’s time to balance the budget without raising taxes. 2. Do you support the Jacksonville Journey? Explain your answer. I was a committee member on the Jacksonville Community Council’s 2006 study (“Reducing Violence: A Community Response”) which was the impetus for the Jacksonville Journey. (I was recognized by the Times-Union as one of only four study participants who attended all 17 committee meetings.) I support the objectives of the Jacksonville Journey but some of its methodology is difficult to justify. We’re spending $500,000 to demolish crack houses and deteriorated structures when this is primarily a failure of our Code Enforcement system; a system that now has $160 million in uncollected penalties, levies and fines. And while sending young people to college is a worthwhile goal, I don’t understand how 85 scholarships at a cost of nearly $1 million per year will do anything at the margin to affect violent crime. 3. What endorsements have you received? I’ve been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police. 4. How much civic activity do you perform outside work?
I’ve been actively involved in our community since arriving here 30 years ago. Among other things, I served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Jacksonville Junior Chamber of Commerce / Jacksonville Jaycees. I also served on the Board of Governors of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and on the boards of the Clara White Mission, the Suicide Prevention Center, The Civic Roundtable and the Jacksonville Jaycees Community Foundation. I recently completed a term on the Board of Directors of Riverside Avondale Preservation and served as Chairman of its first ever Public Safety Committee. In 2004 I was elected to the Duval County Republican Executive Committee as a Precinct Committeeman and was re-elected in 2008. In 2009 I was the Republican leader who actively rallied opposition to ObamaCare, organizing Town Hall meetings and speaking at public forums across North Florida. In 2010 I served as County Manager of the Republican Party where I responsible organizing grassroots volunteers in support of Republican candidates. In December of 2010 I was elected to a two-year term as Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Duval County. 5. How do you intend to comply with Florida¹s public records and government in the sunshine laws? If you saw an elected official breaking the sunshine law, what would you do? I plan to comply completely and fully with Florida’s public records and government in the sunshine laws. E-mails sent and received via an official e-mail address will be available to anyone who wishes to see them as will all official correspondence and memoranda that I send or receive. I will not hold any meeting with any other City Council member without first advertising the date, time, place and purpose of the meeting. .Although I’m not sure how you can “see” someone breaking the law, if I had a reasonable and good faith belief that someone had broken the law I would report it to the city’s Ethics Officer and to the General Counsel’s Office. 6. What can you do to help support the clean-up of the St. Johns River? The is an area where the Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA would likely take the lead since they have jurisdiction over the entire river and operate under a broad mandate to protect water quality. It would be appropriate to continue to support the work of the St. Johns Riverkeeper and to look reasonable ways to for reducing nutrient run off and fecal contamination. The City of Jacksonville also has legal standing to protect the river from the adverse actions of any entity upstream that materially harms the river. 7. How can you become engaged in the city¹s high murder, infant mortality and suicide rates? Our high murder rate: In 2006 I served on the JCCI study committee that issued the “Reducing Violence: A Community Response” report. While the report contained many thoughtful suggestions, the most salient were those involving stepped up law enforcement, better community policing and targeting illegal gun
possession. We also need to address security issues in high-crime apartment communities where a disproportionate amount of violence occurs. There is one notorious apartment complex on the Westside where nearly 20 murders have taken place over the last four years. Police officials I’ve spoken with suggest this apartment complex could be secured with the right kind of perimeter fence, reducing the number of entrances/exits to a maximum of two, installing gatehouses and registering everyone who enters or leaves the property. As a member of City Council I will look for ways to require high-crime apartment complexes to implement tighter security. Our high suicide rate: I served on the Board of Directors of the Suicide Prevention Center when it was still in operation. While crisis intervention is important, the best way to reduce the suicide rate is to diagnose and treat chronic depression. Nothing else would have a greater effect on our suicide rate. Our high infant high mortality rate: In my work on health care reform I spent a great deal of time reviewing the literature on infant mortality. Paradoxically, Hispanic women, who traditionally have the least access to health care, have the lowest rate of infant mortality when compared to Caucasians and African Americans. Although adequate prenatal care is essential to the overall health and wellbeing of the mother and her infant, there does not appear to be a direct link between prenatal care and infant mortality. The complication most closely associated with high infant mortality is low birth weight resulting from premature delivery which itself appears to be strongly influenced by behavioral factors such as smoking. When the data is adjusted for birth weight, the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is comparable to that of other western nations. My recommendation would be a significant public education campaign to encourage certain behavioral changes in expectant mothers. 8. Has consolidation been a good or bad deal for Jacksonville? Please explain your answer. I believe that consolidation has been good for Jacksonville and is part of what makes our city so unique. By combining the government of the City of Jacksonville with that of Duval County, citizens committed themselves to a shared fate. It meant that the residents of Mandarin and Arlington were invested in Lackawanna and East Jacksonville and that “white flight” wouldn’t be the controlling dynamic in determining Duval County’s future. I also believe that consolidated government creates certain efficiencies and economies of scale. As a consolidated city we are more dominant regionally, can act more decisively in addressing community problems and are better able to control our destiny. 9. What is the role of a council member? As mini-mayor? Or as legislator? The City Council is primarily a legislative and deliberative body. Increasingly, however, voters expect those in the legislative branch to take the lead and to speak out on issues of major importance. When dealing with major issues it would be a mistake to always defer to the executive branch in forming policy. At
certain times taking on the role of a so-called “mini-mayor” would be appropriate provided the council member is knowledgeable, limits his/her involvement to a few select issues and doesn’t adopt a governing style that tries to compete with the Mayor. To the greatest degree possible City Council and the Mayor’s Office should work cooperatively. Provided there is input from City Council, allowing the Mayor to take the lead on key issues is probably the best way to build community support for a policy initiative..
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?