The Independent News has never shied away from controversy. Our role is to analyze the facts, connect the dots and report what we’ve learned. We have one agenda—how can we make this community better for all its citizens. With that agenda in mind, we offer our readers these endorsements for the August 14 primary.
Clerk Of The Circuit Court
Endorsement: Pam Childers
All good things must come to an end. Some elected officials know when it’s time to hand over the reins. Others must have them pried from their hands. For over five decades, Ernie Lee Magaha has been the independent watchdog that has helped our courthouse run smoothly and prevented misuse of county funds by over-reaching county commissioners and administrators. There are few complaints about his office, but no county office was ever intended to be a lifetime position. Changes in leadership are healthy and can bring about innovation. Childers has the experience and has campaigned hard for the position. She is a worthy successor.
Endorsement: David Morgan (I)
Morgan’s victory in the 2008 Republican primary was the biggest upset in Escambia County’s political history. The voters had enough of the “Good Ol’ Boys” and wanted to shake up the most powerful agency in the county, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. A true outsider with no ties to the area’s power brokers or to the fiefdoms that existed inside the ECSO, Morgan gives the agency a sense of professionalism and integrity that has been missing for decades. Changing the ECSO is akin to steering a battleship, it can only be done in degrees. Morgan needs another four years to complete the task.
County Commissioner, District 1
Endorsement: Wilson Robertson (I)
The next four years are critical for Escambia County. The influx of the BP fine monies, which could be as much as $100 million, can set the county on a new course of growth and prosperity. We need experienced leadership on the commission. Robertson can provide it.
County Commissioner, District 3
Endorsement: Lumon May
There is no one in this race that has more experience working in the trenches of District 3. “Coach Lumon” has helped through youth sports thousands of children. He knows the issues and is unafraid to speak out for what he believes. May is part of the new progressive leadership movement in the African-American community that places an emphasis on action over finger-pointing and merely talking about problems. His election will be the first step toward revitalization of District 3.
County Commissioner, District 5
Endorsement: Steven Barry
District 5 is the largest district in the county. It’s a mix of agriculture, industry and education. For too many years, it has isolated itself from the rest of the county, assuming the role of the “red-headed stepchild.” Times are changing. Gulf Power is looking to build a new plant, and the University of West Florida has major expansion plans that will make it an economic catalyst for the region. District 5 could rival downtown Pensacola, the beach and other areas in job growth, especially if Airbus suppliers move into the county. Barry can provide a progressive vision to the growth of the county and District 5. Instead of simply being “Dr. No,” he can make sure that District 5 shares in the prosperity without hampering the overall development of the county.
ECUA, District 1
Endorsement: Logan Fink
The Emerald Coast Utility Authority has missed his leadership. He has learned from his loss in 2008 and is more open and listens better to his constituents. He deserves to be sent back to the ECUA board.
ECUA, District 3
Endorsement: Clorissti Mitchell
It’s no secret that the Independent News has been disappointed in the lack of leadership coming from the African-American “Secondhand Lions” that hold all the elected positions in District 3. The district is hurting and its leaders rarely do anything but attack each other. Mitchell is different. She will fight for her district, while looking out for all the ratepayers.
ECUA, District 5
Endorsement: Larry Walker (I)
His knowledge on ECUA issues and a familiarity with District is unsurpassed.
CITY OF PENSACOLA
City Council, At-Large B
Endorsement: Victor Cross
This endorsement is one of elimination. Sam Hall seems to have no passion for the job, while it’s Charles Bare’s passions that bother us the most. Hall is out of touch with the voters and has gotten caught up with the political games of the Pensacola’s version of “Jersey Shore,” better known as the Pensacola City Council. A vote for Bare is a vote for more discord and another step towards the undermining of the city charter passed in 2009. On the other hand, Victor Cross is a fresh, articulate voice and he appears to care about the entire city, not just one segment—which is what an At-Large council member should do.
City Council, District 7
Endorsement: Jimmie Perkins
Having served on the Santa Rosa Island Authority, Perkins offers experienced leadership and a proven ability to work well with others. During his campaign, he has walked the streets meeting and listening to the voters of District 7.
REGIONAL AND STATEWIDE RACES
Public Defender 1st Judicial Circuit
Endorsement: James Owens The daily newspaper has done its best to run the incumbent James Owens out of office. Owens began his term by firing nearly 60 attorneys and long-time staff members. He brought in criminal defense veterans and re-energized an agency that had become complacent under long-time Public Defender Jack Behr. Owens left a bunch of disgruntled ex-employees in his wake, but saved the taxpayers $233,799 in payroll the first year.
The big blow to Owens’ administration was the front-page allegation in the News Journal that Tony Henderson, the chief assistant public defender, had made improper sexual advances on a client. Our paper interviewed the supposed victim, Heather Tramuta, who denied Henderson had made any harassing phone calls or lewd remarks to her. She never filed a complaint with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. However, someone filed a report and gave it to the daily newspaper. The IN has been told that the deputy who did it has been identified from the ECSO computer records and that he is under an Internal Affairs investigation.
Next was the investigation of Col. Bud Day for not working a full day. A disgruntled ex-employee kept pushing the story until someone bit. From then, any miscue by an employee, or even a former employee, got headlines in the paper. Owens dealt with each as it occurred. However, the impression of “Animal House” was created and the daily did its best to make it stick.
We are not buying into the obvious attempts to end the political career of man who dared to shake up his agency. The daily newspaper got taken in early and hasn’t wanted to reevaluate its position.
We will stick with James Owens.
State Representative, District 2
Endorsement: C.V. (Clay) Ford (I)
Clay Ford has been in the Florida House of Representatives since 2007, which makes him the longest-serving state representative in our area. He chairs Energy & Utilities and Federal Affairs subcommittees. We need his leadership in Tallahassee.
Circuit Judge 1st Judicial Circuit Group 15
Endorsement: Terry Ketchel (I)
We see no reason to change.
Endorsement: Bill Nelson (I)
Nelson has been a good friend to Northwest Florida. He came to our aid both after Hurricane Ivan and the BP oil disaster. Nelson favors simplifying the tax code. He supported President Obama’s health care law—and, yes, we like the Affordable Care Act.
Endorsement: Connie Mack, IV
When it comes to endorsing a state or federal candidate in a Republican primary, the choice is often reduced to who is the least crazy. Mack qualifies as such in this race.