During the Friday meeting of the Historic St Augustine Area Council of the St Johns County Chamber of Commerce, President Len Weeks introduced a crowd of about 40-50 members and guests to the two candidates for city commission that will appear on the November 6 ballot.
The meeting was the first since the summer break and was held at MoJo’s Barbeque located on Cordova Street across from the historic Tolomato Cemetery.
Mayor Joe Boles and Vice-Mayor Leanna Freeman were re-elected without opposition; neither attended the meeting. Incumbent commissioner Errol Jones and former PZB member Deltra Long, were defeated in the non-partisan Primary Election in August.
The top two vote-getters, Bruce Maguire and Roxanne Horvath, move on to the General Election in a runoff that will determine which will serve on the commission for the coming four years.
Maguire spoke first; each was allowed 15 minutes, but, both went a little over. Questions to the candidates after their presentations dealt with controversial parking in the downtown area, and ideas for smarter spending by a commission that seems to have lost its way. Maquire and Horvath were on the same side of several points and differed on others.
Both saw a need for maintaining St Augustine’s family-friendly atmosphere and looking at the long-term value of investments. Maguire spoke frankly about his disapproval of spending on the Visitor Information Center and other recent city spending that he says is short-sighted and designed to compete with private, taxpaying businesses.
The Historic St Augustine Area Council meets monthly to address issues within the historic district such as historic preservation, tourism, and business growth. Also attending Friday were Vice-President John Stavely, Secretary-Treasurer Suzanne Booth, Director Leslee Keys, Director Joe Finnegan, and Director Richard Pinto.
The council identified a need to help local businesses solve an issue of increased panhandling in the historic district, members worked with the City Commission in support of a stronger panhandling ordinance and provided ongoing support of the non-issuance of permits to vendors conducting business in the Plaza De La Constitucion.
Council members recognize that issuing permits to vendors to conduct business in the Plaza constitutes an unfair competition to the downtown merchants who are regulated and taxed to do business.
Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News staff photographer