As Election Day approaches, early voting begins and absentee ballots are distributed, 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 are two contests on which to vote in the City of St. Augustine for non-partisan seats on the city commission.
Seat 1 is a race between current Commissioner Errol D. Jones and Lincolnville resident Judith Seraphin.
Jonesâ€™ knowledge of the city is broad enough to allow him to see areas that have progressed and conditions that have improved â€“ albeit too slow for some and too costly for others.
Seraphin is comparatively a â€œnewcomerâ€ having organized her and her husbandâ€™s national shrink wrap business in St. Augustine in June of 2005. According to the Global Wrap LLC website, Judith Seraphin is the CEO and her husband is the President of the Woman Business Enterprise.
Seraphin has been very critical of Jonesâ€™ performance as a commissioner, however, from what we have seen, she seems to be too focused on criticizing past mistakes and too short on offering workable solutions.
In our experience with the St. Augustine community, we have learned that there is no way that you can force immediate change. Little if anything will be accomplished by complaining that everything in St. Augustine is done the wrong way; and Seraphin has a long list of peeves.
Seraphinâ€™s passion is too vitriolic and will alienate the very people who she needs to convince to support her causes and ideas — if she ever plans to accomplish any of them.
The importance of a unifying effort is not lost on Jones; in fact, it is the only way he has been able to achieve the advances that he feels are most important for the folks who live and work in St. Augustine.
Jones wins our support, endorsement and vote.
Seat 5 is an open seat; there is no incumbent. Former Fire Chief Jimmy Owens will face urban and historic preservation planner Nancy Sikes-Kline in this non-partisan contest.
This race is between two long time residents who each have contributed to our community and have volunteered their time and energies to a number of civic organizations.
When Owens announced his retirement from the city in 2007, he mentioned that he was considering a run for political office; but offered no specific plans.
In the 33 years that Owens worked for the city fire department after the retirement of Chief Hall, he spent 23 years in administration of the public safety agency â€“ 10 of which he served as Chief.
Sikes-Kline has gained broad experience since her graduation from the University of Florida and in her 24 years since moving to St. Augustine.
She has worked on historic preservation and heritage tourism projects, not only in St. Augustine, but on the state and national level. In our opinion, we feel that her experience as a successful grant writer and in working on the comprehensive plan for St. Augustine, her experience on various boards, including the Historical Architectural Review Board and Parking and Traffic Committee, better prepare her to serve as our next commissioner.
Owens experience with city government is as an administrator of a single agency, which he performed with distinction. Jimmy can tell you great stories of growing up in Lincolnville and spending his adult life working for the city, however, the ability to plan and budget for the entire organization requires broader education, varied experience and more forward thinking than Owens brings to the table.
Sikes-Kline wins our support, endorsement and vote.
Photo credit: Historic City News photographer Kerry McGuire