On June 26, the Escambia County Commission agreed to delay its referendum to extend the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) until the November general election. The referendum was initially set for the Aug. 26 primary election, but the organizers convinced the commissioners they needed more time.
Both the city of Pensacola and county need to review their wish lists of capital projects to be funded with the tax and add more stormwater projects, according to political advisors. Democrats are key to passing any tax extension and most believe that Democratic voters may skip the August primary. Traditionally Democrats have been more likely to vote for taxes than Republicans.
The only stumbling block with the November date for the county referendum is the Escambia County School District has already scheduled its own referendum on its share of the LOST for then. With the growing dissatisfaction with Superintendent Malcolm Thomas in the African-American community, that referendum could be in trouble, especially if the Tea Party also votes against the tax.
District 2 Race Heating
Doug Underhill has picked up two major endorsements in his effort to unseat two-term incumbent Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino. Those endorsements have come from law enforcement.
Sheriff David Morgan has been walking neighborhoods for Underhill and appears on his campaign literature. The Northwest Florida chapter of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, Inc. has also endorsed Underhill.
Last summer, Valentino, as chairman of the county commissioner, spearheaded the effort to take control of the county jail away from Sheriff Morgan. He went on television several times blasting the sheriff and his officers. Emails show that Valentino was advised on the jail transfer by several of the supporters of former Sheriff Ron McNesby and John Powell, whom Morgan defeated in the 2012 GOP primary.