Guest Commentary: Inquiring Mind

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Seeing the Light
by Jay Light

Some observations about the upcoming Town Council elections:

First: Thanks to the Beach Ministerial Association for hosting the Candidate Forum last week. Any opportunity to get to know anything about the candidates has to be good. However, if the intention of the forum was for voters to find out what candidates really believe about local issues, the format ended up not being very satisfying.

The eight minutes allotted to each candidate to tell us who he is and why he wants to be elected was pretty loaded with motherhood and apple pie-level statements. I did learn that some of them are better public speakers than others. The second hour, the social event, gave each voter the chance to ask a candidate a question one-on-one. As a result, the answer given was only known to that one questioner. A voter asking a relevant question in the open forum and having everyone present hear each candidate’s response would have gone much farther in informing the public about where they stand on things. I hope the remaining events are more informative.

Second: We’re all getting mailings from candidates telling us how good they’ll be for the Beach and asking for our votes. In reading the fine print on the flyers of two of them (Robert Burandt and Forrest Critser), I saw they were paid for by “Save Our Beaches,” which lists an address in Jensen Beach, Florida. It turns out that “Save Our Beaches” is the same anonymous (cowardly) person or entity which has recently mailed beach residents two flyers entitled “Fort Myers Beach finds” that were loaded with clearly anti-TPI/Margaritaville tirades.

What this might mean could range from absolutely nothing (PAC’s do not need the candidate’s approval), or all the way up to knowing that these candidates are firmly in the pockets of the people who are opposed to the project and are working to delay or kill it. Whether or not voters want two people on the Council who might try to kill it is up to the voters, but absent a very clear public statement by both candidates about their true positions and intentions on the issue, the decision about whom I’m going to vote for just got a lot easier.

Finally: A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece in which I listed the questions I’d like to hear the answers to before making up my mind. Since then, a new issue has come up that I’d like to add to the original list. More and more complaints are surfacing from residents that claim that dealing with the town government has become an adversarial experience, particularly in questions about zoning, code enforcement and obtaining permits and records. The questions are: Are you aware of these complaints? And if so, do you believe they are valid? And if you do, what will you do about it if you’re elected?

My inquiring mind wants to know.