Editorial: Before you vote this year, learn the candidates


Editorial: Before you vote this year, learn the candidates

Michael Gold, Editor in Chief

Across the nation, a movement started, or should I say re-energized, after the November 8, 2016 General Presidential Election. Half the country was cheering the return of a Republican to the White House. The other half sulked and brooded — but it got worse.

As a die-hard Gator football supporter, I have had a lot of experience winning the games we were supposed to lose and losing the games we were supposed to win. So, maybe I was better prepared than others to watch the election returns, who knows. But, what I do know, is that nothing good has or ever will come of the vindictive, malicious and spiteful behavior of those who are unhappy about the election of our president.

The good news is that our health, safety and well being are not affected by the outcome of a Saturday football game. The unwelcome news is that there are people trying to rewrite our history and they don’t appear to be too concerned about our safety — or anything else for that matter.

We are still early in the election process for 2018. I’ve been following and participating in politics for more years than I care to remember. I often joke about being one out of about 30 registered Republicans in St Johns County during the 1970’s, before being Republican was “cool”. I have seen first hand that you do not take anything for granted. Until the election is over, it is not over. I won’t forget that this year, either.

There are literally thousands of small and large-sized organizations, many with links to common sources of financial support, some properly chartered, some not, some properly registered — either as an “electioneering organization”, a political action committee, or, as a committee to re-elect. They can be called a dozen other names, but they are the same sort of dark-money political influencers around the country. They used to come in and just buy an election directly from a candidate or local official. You rarely know who they really are, who they really represent, or where their money really comes from, and you never will.

It is virtually impossible to identify them on a national level, but on the local level, it is not quite as easy to hide. I have observed with interest some of the St Johns County political activists who have made up organization names often sounding as harmless as a ladybug. When you look deeper, especially when you investigate their counterparts in other cities within our area, you quickly learn that these bugs are no lady! As the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

New Black Panther Party, New Florida Majority, Take Em Down, Occupy Jacksonville, Jacksonville Progressive Coalition, Poor Peoples Campaign, the Jacksonville Community Action Committee, Northside Coalition, Jacksonville Police Accountability Council, Jacksonville Coalition for Equality, Progressive Democrats of America, Indivisible St Johns, Womens March St Augustine, Ponte Vedra United for Progress, Black Lives Matter

Most Historic City News readers do not need to be told twice the importance of knowing a candidate for elected office. Likewise, they have learned that you don’t vote for someone with a cute name or that really acts goofy — as a joke. What if that joke was to get elected? You might be running from your joke for the next four years. For that reason, I would be remiss if I didn’t continue our election coverage with one stark example that has jumped off the page.

How many people in St Augustine know Jackie Rock? Six or eight people? Do you know where she comes from, what she does to make a living, the stability of her state of mind? How about her politics? She is a public figure already. She holds an elected public office. She holds a seat on the Anastasia Mosquito Control Board and was just elected in 2016. Her record of attendance and contributions there should be considered, as well as the fact that she has announced that she will surrender her position there — only half way through her term — because she now has her eyes on the office of mayor of the City of St Augustine.

The mayor and commissioners are required to set the policies for the operation of the city government as well as to hire and evaluate the performance of the city manager, city attorney, and city clerk, in accordance with our charter. If elected mayor, Rock will become one-of-three votes needed to affect any number of our changes in our government. Our codes and ordinances all emanate from the commission table. As mayor, it is her face that meets with dignitaries from around the world who make official visits to our city. She signs government documents on behalf of the city. She has the power of the gavel during any meeting over which she presides. She can call you up to speak before the city commission, or she can order you to step down and be silent. The mayor controls the “bully pulpit”, don’t you think it is important that she not be one?

Rock, who was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention supporting Bernie Sanders, has some ideas about the world that should be troubling for anyone who might see her as mayor material. Just listening to some of her public speaking and self-promotional material, she has clearly associated herself with some advisers and identified both mentors and supporters who are of questionable character and repute, and frankly I would not want anywhere near the leadership decisions that affect my hometown. Not the least of which, for example, are her ideas about law enforcement — one of the cornerstone services provided by our municipal government.

I found on her facebook page and circulating around the Internet these two examples that I find disturbing:

I’m sorry. This is not the type of behavior or message I want the highest elected official in the city to be sending to the public. The photograph of Jackie Rock holding the “Demilitarize the Police” sign is near the Pirate Museum on Avenida Menendez, adjacent to the “No Name Bar”.

Our police officers have been called to this location more than once or twice due to typical disturbances, common assaults, or battery brought on by patrons of the bar who didn’t know when to quit. Maybe some of the drunks involved will remember their mayor campaigning to “Demilitarize the Police”.

The next big landmark for the 2018 election cycle will be the close of Qualifying Week on June 22, 2018, at noon. On that day, we will know the names of all candidates who qualified to run for office this year. For voters, the last day on which to register to vote is July 30, 2018 for the August 28, 2018 Primary Election.

  • In the race for mayor for the City of St Augustine, if only one candidate qualifies, she will be declared the winner and elected by acclamation. If only two candidates qualify, they will both go to the November General Election ballot, where the winner will be decided. If three, or more, candidates qualify for that seat, the August 28 Primary Election will be an open primary where all registered voter in the city will vote, regardless of party affiliation. If one of the three-or-more candidates wins a majority of the votes cast, they will be declared the winner and deemed to be elected without further balloting. If none of the three-or-more candidates wins a majority of the votes cast, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will advance to the General Election, where the winner will be decided.

Knowing the potential for candidates like Jackie Rock to make their way onto the ballot, and, the possibility that voters who generally believe they won’t vote for incumbents this year, or they are going to vote for whoever’s name is first on the ballot, could inadvertently win her votes, I am taking this opportunity to share with our readers what I have discovered and ask you please, before you vote this year, learn the candidates. Thank you.

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