County commission District 1 is one of three county commission contests this year; and, one of two that will not be finally decided until the General Election in November; the incumbent in this race has been supported by Historic City News during each of her last two elections — we see no reason to change our position now.
Cyndi Stevenson is cut from some special cloth. She gave up full time employment as a Certified Public Accountant eight years ago and has focused, full time on being the best county commissioner she can be. She serves the county in a professional, pragmatic way and is genuinely thoughtful about how residents will be affected by her decisions as a commissioner.
She is not afraid to change her mind when she learns better ways and means of achieving her goals — but she never forgets her goals; one of which was not to be a career politician. On that score, Historic City News tends to support self-imposed term limits in political offices; two four-year terms is about as far as we see any elected official as being effective. We are going to make an exception in this case because we find Stevenson to be … well, exceptional.
From her first term in office, we dubbed her “the voice of reason” — and looking back at some of the drama she has faced while serving as a commissioner, we’d say she is living up to the moniker.
Couple of points that we remember:
Stevenson opposed two bad employment contracts for county officials — one that severed, and one that severely diminished reasonable accountability to the taxpayers through the Board.
Stevenson voted against the biggest tax increase in the county’s history while facing a room full of people who were supporting costly-to-maintain projects; at a time before cost cutting was “cool”.
Stevenson quietly took a pay decrease when Florida law was changed to allow such a voluntary pay reduction by elected public officials. She is the only county commissioner to have done so, according to payroll records obtained by Historic City News. She also absorbs her own travel cost — some of that expense has been billed to the county by other commissioners.
Stevenson worked to reform employee benefits beginning in 2005. We estimate those measures is saving the county $6 to $8 million, each year.
Stevenson made sure the JEA money was used to reduce the millage rate in the 2012 budget.
Stevenson voted against adding a purchasing building when we had space to do the function in the administration building.
Stevenson assured accountability in the Cultural Council contract — which originally had a lengthy term and would have only been severable in the event of an illegal act or payment of a hefty termination fee.
Without reservation, we unanimously recommend Cyndi Stevenson for St Johns County Commission District 1.