The 3-way race for St Augustine Port, Waterway and Beach District Commissioner, Seat 4, is a non-partisan, uncompensated contest between candidates Chuck Hennessy, Robert Kee, and (John) Carl Blow.
Kee is retired and his income is derived from social security and an annuity. He co-owns a home in St Johns County and a weekend cottage in Satsuma (Putnam County). With other choices available to voters, we can exclude Kee because we feel this seat should be filled by someone who is a full-time resident with the energy and planning skills to contribute to the activities of this commission.
Two years ago, while serving as a respected Commissioner of the Florida Inland Navigation District, Carl Blow ran for Group 5 on the Port, Waterway and Beach commission.
In that election, Historic City News backed his opponent, Jay Bliss; largely because of what many readers viewed as a conflict of interest for Blow — although technically not a violation of Florida’s resign-to-run law.
Blow also serves on St Augustine’s Planning and Zoning Board.
The prohibition against holding dual-office does not apply to non-paid offices like FIND, PZB, and Port, according to the Florida Election Commission. What do apply, are Florida’s Government in the Sunshine laws.
At Port meetings, which are open to the public, Commissioner Jay Bliss has pointed out to Historic City News that the District and taxpayers have benefited from interactions with Blow; in his capacity as a Florida Inland Navigation District commissioner.
Outside of those public meetings, Sunshine Laws prohibit discussion of either taxing district’s business.
If elected, and if Blow persists in maintaining his position as a Florida Inland Navigation District commissioner, all of St Johns County loses an otherwise strong resource — except during the three-hour monthly Port meeting.
Blow’s return to run for Group 4, while still conflicted by his seat on the Florida Inland Navigation District, continues to exclude Blow from consideration as far as we are concerned.
The spirit of the resign-to-run law has strong merit — to increase the number of individuals in public service by restricting each to wear a single office hat.
Our elections are opportunities to expand the base of civic-minded individuals offering themselves to our local boards and commissions.
We recommend you exercise that opportunity in the August 14th primary by voting for Chuck Hennessey.