County commission endorsement

Administration building
Election Day, November 4th is quickly approaching, early voting begins Monday and absentee ballots are being collected. It is with great thought that careful consideration that we ask citizens to cast their votes.

From the sample ballot distributed from the Supervisor of Elections office, Historic City Media has examined the candidates in several local elections and will offer our endorsement to those who we feel are best qualified and capable.

There is one contest on which to vote in St. Johns County for District 1 county commission.

The incumbent, Cyndi Stevenson, a Daytona Beach native and Certified Public Accountant, is seeking re-election after four years of service to the county. She currently serves as vice chairman.

In the Republican Primary Election, Stevenson defeated Chairman Tom Manuel’s campaign manager and advocate; Albert J. Abbatiello. We endorsed Stevenson in that race.

Stevenson’s opponent, Merrill Paul Roland, was born in New Jersey, he attended the Connecticut School of Broadcasting and obtained his FCC license in radio and television.

Roland became a mobile disc jockey and entertainer, and retired as past president of Florida Communications Co. He is a part owner of a cellular phone company.

Roland has volunteered to work for numerous community organizations, including the coastal cleanup, every year.

Roland ran unsuccessfully for county commission in 2002. At that time he said his No. 1 priority was protecting people’s individual property rights. He also said the ad valorem tax system is unfair and he would look for ways to change it.

Roland is controversial. He may be best known for unsuccessfully challenging the City of St. Augustine’s ordinance against performing on certain city streets in the historic district. He portrayed a pirate complete with peg leg; taking full advantage of the fact that he actually wears a prosthetic leg.

Roland also stood in as a successful plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City of St. Augustine who has since upgraded sidewalks and removed access barriers for handicapped visitors and residents.

Some in the county say that Roland is “un-electable”. To her credit, Stevenson makes no such assumption. Both candidates – who in many ways are complete opposites – have so far shown each other courtesy and respect in the campaigning process; limiting their criticisms of the other to issues relevant to the job they each seek.

We find that extraordinarily refreshing and a good example to others seeking office.

Stevenson has used her four years well. She has continued her professional development; achieving the distinction of Certified County Commissioner. She no longer works as an accountant and devotes her energies to volunteer efforts and what she considers to be her full time responsibilities in office.

We believe that Stevenson will continue to be the voice of reason on a Board that may soon lose its Chairman and will see two freshman members take office in the coming months. Her participation will provide stability to the leadership of the commission and the county offices during this volatile transition.

Stevenson wins our support, endorsement and vote.

Photo credit: Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire