Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 2nd 2014

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IN’s Endorsements

STATE/REGIONAL

U.S. Senator
Chris Borgia, NPA
Bill Gaylor, NPA
Connie Mack, Rep
Bill Nelson (I), Dem
The sad truth is that the Republican U.S. Senators have shown little love for Northwest Florida, even though our region is solidly Republican. Sen. Marco Rubio voted against the RESTORE Act, the legislation that dedicates 80 percent of BP fines to the area most impacted by the 2010 oil disaster. We have little reason to believe Mack will be any different.

Bill Nelson fought hard for RESTORE. He came to our area’s rescue after Hurricane Ivan and helped our community recover. There is no better friend for our area on the national level on the Democratic side of the aisle than Nelson.

Recommendation: Bill Nelson

Representative in Congress, District 1
Jim Bryan, Dem
Calen Fretts, Lbt
Jeff Miller (I), Rep
While this paper has not always agreed politically with Congressman Miller, we respect his efforts on the behalf of military and veterans. He has been a “good soldier” for the GOP and was rewarded in 2010 with the chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Miller played a key role in the passage of the RESTORE Act.

Recommendation: Jeff Miller

State Senator, District 1
Doug Broxson (I), Rep
Broxson spoke out for this area during the BP oil disaster and has worked hard to help citizens get their claims paid.

State Senator, District 2
Greg Evers (I), Rep
We can always count on him filing another pro-gun bill next session and providing all sorts of entertainment.

State Senator, District 3
C.V. (Clay) Ford (I), Rep
His seniority in the House is a boon to our area.

ESCAMBIA COUNTY

Sheriff
David Morgan (I), Rep
Mindy Lynn Pare, Write-in
The good ol’ boys made another attempt to take back county government with the John Powell campaign in the GOP primary. Morgan trounced him. Next up is Mindy Pare who has nothing in her background that shows she has any leadership ability.

Morgan is honest, straight-laced and a no-nonsense leader. He came into the sheriff’s office as an outsider and that has made a tremendous difference. Favors are no longer granted to campaign supporters and deputies are allowed to do their jobs without political interference.

Four years ago, the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office was seen as a liability to community recruiting businesses. Today, it’s a source of pride for the community.  Morgan is the difference.

Recommendation: David Morgan

Property Appraiser
Charles M. Green IV, Rep
Chris Jones (I), Dem
This job requires integrity. It’s about numbers and fairness. Green is the Director of Business Development for a Virginia-based technology firm and commutes via the web and travels to his job. We have no reason to believe that he isn’t as trustworthy as the incumbent, but we believe knowledge of real estate and appraisals is critical for this constitutional office.

Chris Jones has been willing to take on the taxability of the Pensacola Beach leases. He has worked to gain more equity in property valuations under a current system that limits his efforts. We see no reason to change and the political party of the candidates shouldn’t be a factor in this race.

Recommendation: Chris Jones

Tax Collector
Janet Holley (I), Dem
Mike Whitehead, Rep
The third leg of the unholy political trio—that included former County Administrator George Touart and Sheriff Ron McNesby—is back. Whitehead claims to have a change of heart and is a kinder, gentler version of his 2008 self that got his butt kicked by Wilson Robertson in his effort to be re-elected to the county commission.

However, his campaign has been anything but gentle. He has blasted incumbent Janet Holley for double-dipping by taking her retirement and staying on the job; for no community involvement; and for being a Democrat. He hits all the Tea Party buzzwords—NRA, Pro-Life, Lower Taxes, Supports Military—none of which have anything to do with the tax collector’s office.

Holley grew up in the tax collector’s office. She took retirement in 2008 because the Florida law allowed her to do so. It had no impact on Escambia County taxpayers. She has been involved in the community serving on the board of the Council on Aging and is a member of Pensacola Five Flags Rotary and Impact 100.

We wanted to believe Whitehead had changed but his campaign shows there isn’t much difference between the 2012 and 2008 versions.

Recommendation: Janet Holley

Superintendent of Schools
Malcolm Thomas (I), Rep
Claudia Brown Curry, Dem
There has been no bigger disappointment in this year’s crop of incumbents seeking re-election than School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas, who has proven to be one of the most narrow-minded and political superintendents in the past 30 years. He ran on a platform of being a consensus builder. He hasn’t done it.

His decisions appear to be made in a vacuum with little input from the community and with no chance for different opinions to be heard. As a result, the school district is falling further and further behind.

The African-American community has unfortunately had to bear the brunt of his hubris and ego. Three schools in the black neighborhoods have been closed. His much-ballyhooed effort to make Warrington Middle School the top middle school in the state has been a dismal failure.

Instead of building a new school on the west side of Escambia County where the demand is, Thomas is building schools in the two districts of school board members that were up for re-election this year, one of which has less than 200 kids in its attendance zone.

Thomas spent much of last year trying to kill the A.A. Dixon charter school. When businesses offered to buy the school buses, he tried to sell them used buses that needed repairs that were more costly than the price of the buses. When the school asked for 20 tables, he would only give them 15, even though he had dozens in his closed schools.

Despite the Thomas-imposed obstacles, Dixon showed last year the most improvement of any school in the county and had better grades than two of Thomas’ schools.
Those trying to recruit businesses to this area will tell you, off the record, that our public school system is our biggest weakest. Sadly, we don’t believe that will get any better over the next four years if Thomas is re-elected.

Claudia Brown Curry is the complete opposite of Thomas. She was a caring, open school board member.  She doesn’t pretend that she knows all the answers and is willing to seek out expert advice.

When Thomas was elected in 2008, he essentially kept everybody that worked under his predecessor Jim Paul. Brown-Curry can do the same initially while she does a national search for the leadership team that can truly turnaround the system.

Brown-Curry is not perfect, but she has a caring heart and can provide a vision to the school district that appears to have lost its way over the last four years.

Recommendation: Claudia Brown-Curry

County Commission, District 1
Wilson Robertson (I), Rep
Bobby Spencer, NPA
We supported Robertson in 2008 because Escambia County had the chance to have the most cohesive and progressive board in years. There have been some successes, especially in how it handled the BP oil spill, but the board has had three county administrators, several ethics investigations and appears ready to splinter at any moment.

While we have not agreed with all Robertson’s actions, we do believe that he has the best interest of the county at heart. Spencer is too big of an unknown to risk the change.

Recommendation: Wilson Robertson

County Commission, District 3
John R. Johnson, NPA
Hugh G. King, Sr., NPA
Lumon May, Dem
Derek L. Stromas, NPA
Tiffany Washington, Rep
Lumon May is the only one in this race with the leadership skills and the hands-on experience working in District 3 to be this district’s county commissioner.

Thousands of children have benefited from the youth sports programs that he was organized in the inner city. His connections stretch from Escambia County to Tallahassee and even as far as the White House. He will get District 3 the resources that it needs to improve. May isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, but also knows how to build the consensus necessary to get things done.

Hugh King was an ineffective Pensacola councilman and never got the Contractors Academy off the ground when he served on the Community Maritime Park Associates board.

When he was arrested for cocaine possession (the case was later thrown out) and was fired as pastor of Greater Union Baptist Church, the white business community loaned him money to save his home from foreclosure-loans that haven’t been repaid. Yet King has run a negative campaign attacking May for accepting campaign contributions from the white community. It’s that type of double-talk the commission and District 3 don’t need.

Tiffany Washington shows promise, but is too young and inexperienced to hold such an important office. Johnson and Stromas simply aren’t serious contenders for the position.

Recommendation: Lumon May

County Commission, District 5
Steven Barry, Rep
Packy Mitchell, NPA
Both candidates have run for this post before. Steve Barry lost to current officeholder, Kevin White, in the 2004 Republican primary by only 102 votes in a five-man race. Packy Mitchell came in second to White in the 2008 Republican primary, losing by nearly 2,000 votes.

This year, White dropped out of the race and Barry won the Republican nomination in another crowded field. Mitchell chose to avoid the primary and is running with no party affiliation. No county commission candidate has won election without a party nomination.

Barry is a financial planner who has a broad base of support outside of District 5. His tenure on the county planning board will help him get acclimated to the commission quickly and prepare him for the tough battles of the RESTORE funds.

Recommendation: Steven Barry

ECUA, District 1
Tom Brame, NPA
Elizabeth Susan Campbell (I), NPA
Vicki Campbell, Rep
James Kirkland, NPA
Elizabeth Campbell ran as a Republican in 2008 and beat incumbent Logan Fink by 207 votes. This year Campbell chose not to run in the GOP primary and newcomer Vicki Campbell beat Fink 492 votes on August 14.

After four years in office, Elizabeth Campbell is still unknown to many of the voters. She wants to get fluoride out the ECUA water system and has run an aggressive email campaign against Vicki attacking her for owning a more expensive home.

Vicki Campbell has stronger ties in the community and is not an unknown. She is a small business owner and has been active with the PACE Center for Girls and the Perdido Key Chamber. She graduated from the Leadership Pensacola program in 2010.

Recommendation: Vicki Campbell

Pensacola

City Council, District 5 (Nonpartisan)
John Jerralds (I)
Gerald C. Wingate
John Jerralds was first appointed to the city council in 2000 to replace Rita Jones, who resigned to run for the Escambia County Commission. He tried unsuccessfully four times earlier to get elected to council. The appointment launched his long career on the council. He served as deputy mayor from 2007–2009 and has served as chair and vice chair of the Pensacola Escambia Development Commission.

While he has been vocal on race issues, Jerralds has had few successes. In 2004, Jerralds tried to organize a black caucus composed of local African-American elected officials, but that effort failed. He tried to get the city and council to adopt a curfew for teens, but he failed to garner support for that, too.

Thanks to Mayor Hayward, Jerralds can show the disparity study and planned community center for his district as recent successes. However, he hasn’t been able to influence the mayor to hire African-Americans at the senior level, and there has been grumbling in District 5 over the lack of input in the design of the new center.

Gerald Wingate offers a fresh approach. The real estate agent with Main Street Properties has made safer neighbors a priority and is more receptive to other parts of the black community.

Jerralds’ approach to re-election has been “if something isn’t broken, you don’t fix it.” Our analysis is that it’s been Mayor Hayward, whom Jerralds did not support in the 2010 election, that has done more to fix District 5 than the councilman. After 12 years, it is time for more open and progressive leadership.

Recommendation: Gerald Wingate

City Referendum Question On Renewal Of Authority To Grant Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions
Shall the City Council of the City of Pensacola be authorized to grant, pursuant to Section 3, Article VII of the State Constitution, property tax exemptions to new businesses and expansions of existing businesses that are expected to create new, full-time jobs in the city?

This is another tool to help the City recruit businesses and jobs to the area. County voters overwhelmingly approved this earlier in the year for county government.

Recommendation: YES – For authority to grant exemptions.

OTHER
Retention of Supreme Court Justices
Justice R. Fred Lewis: Yes
Justice Barbara J. Pariente: Yes
Justice Peggy A. Quince: Yes

Retention of First District Court of Appeal
Judge Simone Marstiller: Yes
Judge Stephanie Ray: Yes
Judge Ron Swanson: Yes
Judge Brad Thomas: Yes

Santa Rosa County Recommendations

Sheriff:  Wendell Hall (I), Rep
School Board Member, District 4 (Non-partisan): Jenny Granse

Back to Vote 2012: IN’s Election Guide