Three seats are up for election every two years on the St Augustine City Commission. In presidential election years, like this, it is Seats 1, 2, and 3 (the mayor). In the mid-term years, it is Seats 3 (the mayor), 4, and 5. Commissioners serve four-year terms and the mayor serves a two-year term.
Historic City News will have an endorsement for each of the three open seats; however, only Seat 1 will appear on the ballot on August 30th.
There are four candidates who are seeking Seat 1 — the incumbent, Roxanne Horvath, and three challengers; Rhey Palmer, Ronald Stafford, and Sandy Flowers. The race is non-partisan, all city voters will be able to vote for the candidate of their choice.
One of two outcomes are possible for this race. Either one candidate will receive more than 50% of the votes in the Primary Election, and be declared the winner; or, the top two will advance to the General Election for a final vote.
As we discussed the merits of each candidate, reviewed the bio provided by Rhey Palmer and Sandy Flowers, we came to consensus in only one round of voting. The City of St Augustine deserves better than we have had for the past four years.
- Roxanne Horvath will turn 65-years-old in December. She has suffered health problems that could easily make her unable to fulfil her full term in office, if she is re-elected. Her “vision” is her own, and, as an architect, she sees herself better qualified to make decisions “for us”, rather than simply being reflective of the decisions the people want to see made. She fails on the “representative government” test.
- We all know of Ronald Stafford from his prior attempts at election to the office of sheriff, once running as a write-in candidate, and to District 5 on the St Johns County School Board. He will turn 66-years-old in October, and has never been elected to local public office. Stafford, now retired from law enforcement, is pastor of the New Mount Moriah Christian Ministry. We are concerned about the separation of church and state. We feel as though it would be an unnecessary challenge to have an active preacher as a commissioner.
- Sandy Flowers turns 54-years-old in December, she moved to the city in and registered to vote in 2004. “Our inlet and our river holds the key to great prosperity for our city,” Flowers wrote. She is critical of the Port and Waterway Authority, saying they “do a bad job ensuring that our inlet and channel gets the attention they require to provide safe passage”. She says, “We don’t have enough parking but in addition to that we have serious problems with the engineering of existing parking plans.” She is all about the marina, is critical of how the City of St Augustine manages it, and tried, unsuccessfully, to promote a water transit system, hoping for bed tax financing, as a solution to our mobility problems. “I found that developing a water transit system within our city and county is the most cost effective way to ensure efficient travel for the touring community.” We all believe Flowers is a “one trick pony”, singularly focused on marine issues. She is better suited for a seat on the Port and Waterway Authority, but she lacks the depth we need at the commission table.
The City of St Augustine will be best served by electing Dr. Rhey Palmer to Seat 1 on the city commission. Palmer served quietly, without pay, as the leader of the Neighborhood Council championed by former mayor, George Gardner. There is no other candidate in this race who has proved the skills necessary to successfully communicate ideas and foster cooperation across the diverse set of interests that make up the neighborhoods of our city. Palmer has the patience, willingness to listen to residents, and to consider all parties, not just the rich and influential, who share in the outcome of his decisions. He is a man of integrity, he has no financial interest in the business of the city or its contracts, and he owes no political favors to the powers who will do anything they can to regain absolute control of the city administration. We are grateful that Rhey Palmer has offered himself to serve in this capacity, and we wholeheartedly offer him our endorsement — more than that, we offer him our vote; and believe you should as well.