The St. Augustine Record published their endorsements in the St. Johns County Commission races today.
District 1 incumbent Cyndi Stevenson is running for a second four-year term against Al Abbatiello in the Republican primary. The winner will face Merrill Roland, a registered independent, on Nov. 4.
The editorial staff at The Record concluded “We recommend voters send Stevenson to the Nov. 4 general election and then elect her again to the County Commission.” Historic City News agrees with their choice.
Stevenson is a CPA by profession but has devoted her last four years to being a fulltime county commissioner. She won election in 2004 over four opponents.
Abbatiello is retired but has served on the elected Community Development District Board for Julington Creek until recently.
Most observers agree that the hottest issue is this race is who will manage future growth the best. Stevenson says she favors managed growth and opposed Ashford Mills, Rivertown, Elkton and Mariposa developments, representing 16,000 new homes, because the developers did not offer the means to resolve the transportation infrastructure problems. She says supports proposed developments that will help with the cost of the county’s road and other infrastructure improvements, such as school sites and fire station sites.
The local paper pointed out that Stevenson voted against the St. Johns River drawdown to help Central Florida’s water shortage because of over-growth. She supports a height limit of 35 feet along the coastal corridor and the home rule charter. She advocates tax reform, supports more job growth, and opposed the fire fee when residents complained after they got their bills. She supports a local option sales tax with a limited time frame for specific county uses.
Abbatiello, who has spoken countywide in support of the proposed home rule charter, would like the commission to create a citizens advisory panel countywide to advise the commission on county issues. His background in business management, support of slowing residential growth, insistence on strict adherence by the commission to the county’s comprehensive land use regulations are what he will bring to the commission, he says.
Abbatiello has said Stevenson has approved 400 comp plan land use amendments, and gathered much of her campaign support from developers. Stevenson says she has many supporters from all walks of life.
But records show that during Stevenson’s four years on the commission, the commission has approved 131 comp plan amendments, according to Theresa Bishop, county’s growth management services director.
Both candidates will seek an increase in the tax base of commercial properties.
“Given her experiences in her first four years, Stevenson has a more balanced view of countywide needs. Despite the challenge to her development stance, she knows how to gain concessions from developers that are beneficial to the county’s infrastructure. She knows that it takes more than just saying “no” to be a county commissioner.” according to The Record article.