From her profile with the St. Johns County Supervisor of Elections, Hester Longstreet wrote, “I believe that elected officials need to be proactive in supporting the type of community that will keep the City of St. Augustine Beach the city we love to live in and the city visitors can’t wait to come back and revisit.”
Historic City News interviewed Longstreet recently to find out more about her candidacy.
We learned that Longstreet became a resident in 1994; her husband of 24 years, Michael, served one term on the City of St. Augustine Beach Commission. Hester Longstreet made a run for School Board once before and lost to Carla Wright.
“I believe in the importance of Community and Family Values,” Longstreet said. “I have worked to give back to our community, and to make it a better place to live and work in for all of us.”
We tried to press Longstreet to take a position on a few contentious issues at the beach with little success. Longstreet was asked what she liked most about living at the beach, and she mentioned several benefits without hesitation, but, when asked what she saw as problems that she did not like, she stalled. We asked, “You mean to tell me that there’s nothing that you are unhappy about?”
Longstreet, who says that she is a former member of the St. Johns Cultural Council, was asked how she felt about their use of the WPA building at the beach pier. According to published reports, the County’s official arts agency has not received the grant funding that it had hoped for to remodel the City owned building; which they rent.
We pressed Longstreet for an answer as to how she would vote if, hypothetically, the Cultural Council came to the commission if they determined that they could no longer finance the operation of the beach facility as a renter and that they could only continue if the Beach agreed to sell them the building. Longstreet’s reaction was to say “no, that’s one of our most historic buildings.”
So, we posed a different hypothetical. “If the Cultural Council decided to relocate elsewhere if you wouldn’t sell them the building, would you support giving them free rent or allowing the City to subsidize them financially in order to keep them in the building?” Longstreet said she would have to talk to her constituents before she could make a decision like that.
“I don’t want to say anything negative about the Cultural Council,” Longstreet said. We tossed out a couple of other issues like weekly garbage collection and the ongoing conflict between fishermen and surfers for space around the beach pier — again she said she wouldn’t make decisions on issues like those.
Longstreet does say, “I am Chair person of the Saint Augustine Beach Beautification Committee, Tree Board and Art in Public Places and have organized the Saint Augustine Beach Arbor Day Celebration for the last three years.”
Longstreet says it’s most important to have good intentions if you want to serve as a Beach commissioner. She says that a vote for her is a vote for community and family values.