St Johns County commissioners currently are paid $76,094 each year plus benefits, more than most of the constituents that they represent. Historic City News editor Michael Gold has been told many times that if a county commissioner really does their job, they are probably underpaid. After all, the commission just approved a $195,000 salary for the interim county manager and his predecessor was paid a whopping $237,453.
But for all the musical chairs happening at the County Administration Building, there are always going to be residents who want to try their hand at making our communities better. It can be discouraging when there are only two candidates to choose from, especially if you aren’t inclined to select either one. For voters who are registered without party affiliation, registered with minor parties, or registered Democrats, you know first-hand how it feels.
The November races for constitutional officers and commissioners could get more voters involved in St Augustine and St Johns County’s election process. A Democrat has already challenged the Republican Supervisor of Elections, and Monday afternoon, 65-year-old Merrill Paul Roland filed paperwork announcing his campaign for county commission seat (5) as a Republican.
Since Roland’s opponent, 72-year-old Isaac “Henry” Dean, is also a Republican, if no one else gets in that contest, it will be declared an “open Primary” and everyone will get to vote for their next commissioner. Dean has held the seat since November 22, 2016.
Roland came to live in St Johns County in 1986 after a long career with the Merv Griffin Enterprises. He registered to vote two years later, July 14, 1988. Roland is a registered member of the Republican Party. He was previously elected to the position of Republican Executive Committeeman. He is retired from his profession as a DJ and Radio and Television Announcer.
Roland has volunteered and supports the following agencies:
• Access Now – Disability Advocate
• Betty Griffin House
• Castillo de San Marcos – Cannonier
• Catholic Charities
• Lions Club
• Project Swing
• St Augustine Beach Civic Association
• St Francis House
• United Way
Roland cites his qualifications for the office of County Commissioner to include his experiences as a young graduate in an entry level position all the way up to the top as a Chief Executive Officer of a major corporation.
Previously, Roland told Historic City News reporters, “I will use my successful life experiences to help St Johns County become debt-free and I care deeply for the community in which I live. I want to maintain the health, safety, and quality of life of all St Johns County citizens, without raising taxes.”
During an unsuccessful bid for Seat 4 on the commission four-years ago, Roland said he’d like to seek new clean businesses for the county such as solar heat and electric vehicles. He also would like a see new jobs created in clean industry; citing a possible traveler’s information radio system along I-95 to attract tourism to the area.