On City Council, EXPERIENCE Counts
To meet the challenges that lie ahead, Jacksonville needs experienced political leaders who are better-prepared than ever before. Decisions made by City Councilors impact our lives – they should be the most experienced citizen-volunteers we can find. With the city about to re-write its Codes and Ordinances, update its Comprehensive Plan, acquire 4 historic properties, complete a watershed land swap, possibly expand its growth boundary and deal with all sorts of yet-to-be determined issues, EXPERIENCE counts.
We need councilors ready to hit the ground running on Election Day and not ones requiring months of catch-up time to study the issues and learn the ropes. A Council post is one you prepare for by attending lots and lots of meetings over the years… and by volunteering and serving at the committee and commission level first. Every week, at the various committee and commission meetings, dozens of citizens participate in the process, volunteering time, energy and expertise. For most, serving at the committee level is the extent of their civic service. For a few, however, the posts are preparatory ones for City Council.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against citizen-volunteer-candidates who seek office to right a wrong, lead a cause or change the world. Given the choice at the town level, however, I prefer City Council candidates who possess basic experience before filling the post.
The best councilors gain education and experience by first serving on the Planning Commission, Parking Commission, Personnel Committee, Public Safety Committee, Historic Architectural Review Commission, Budget Committee, Parks Committee and others – all appropriate “classrooms” to learn the ropes.
Although this year’s 6 council candidates are concerned citizens, Jacksonville needs leaders with hands-on knowledge of how our city functions, experience working with staff, councilors, commissioners, committee members and the citizenry.
Fortunately, 3 candidates are prepared for City Council and have, therefore, earned my endorsement. They are David Jesser, Criss Garcia and Owen Jurling.
Before weighing-in on why I support them, I’ll explain my position on the rest of the field.
Jocie Wall: (Neutral) Her interest in serving is admirable, but I believe she only became interested in running after the Parking Commission implemented regulations that impacted her home near the Britt pavillon. I encourage her to serve on a commission and then run in 2014 after gaining experience and a broader, city-wide perspective so she can represent a constituency beyond her own street and immediate neighborhood.
Katie Haugse: (Strongly Oppose) Ms. Haugse frequently attends city meetings where I have witnessed her being hostile, argumentative and confrontational. In my opinion, she is opposed to any sort of change, lacks vision, holds a grudge against staff members/councilors and brings nothing constructive to the table. If elected, she would be a detriment to the citizenry and council by hampering the city’s ability to collaborate and work together as a cohesive unit.
Bill Hampton: (Strongly Oppose) Mr. Hampton’s candidate questionnaire is not published due to his failure to meet the submission return deadline. He is a newcomer to the political scene and, to the best of my knowledge, has never attended a Jacksonville public meeting. In my opinion, he has no concrete knowledge of how the city operates and is not a candidate to be taken seriously at this time.
The GOOD news is that David Jesser, Criss Garcia and Owen Jurling have proven themselves effective, dedicated public servants and deserve to be elected to the City Council.
David Jesser: (Strongly Support) I am proud to call David one of my good friends. His in-depth knowledge of city workings has developed during his seven years of volunteer service on numerous committees, commissions and organizations. His work with the entire Budget Committee has resulted in several years of balanced city budgets. His leadership on the Planning Commission and as Council liaison to Planning has benefited the city in a myriad of ways. As Chair of the Urban Renewal Committee and as an advocate for local business, David has proven a valuable Councilor with a positive vision for the future. As the city tackles acquiring 4 historic properties and other projects, David’s skills will be useful. He is an entrepreneur/civic leader who has advocated for our senior community, students at Jacksonville Elementary and other groups, earning my trust and support.
Criss Garcia: (Strongly Support) Criss is a thoughtful, friendly and capable candidate with a professional background and skill set perfect for City Council. I’ve witnessed him working alongside staff and citizens at the Planning Commission and am impressed with his ability to grasp complex topics and reach thoughtful, rational decisions. Criss’ municipal management, budget and administrative experience will be valuable as the city explores funding a host of potential projects while striving to keep the city budget in-check. Criss is a pragmatist with sensitivities to reigning-in growth, the arts, preserving our historic properties and enhancing Jacksonville’s livability and quality of life.
Owen Jurling: (Strongly Support) Owen epitomizes a “citizen-volunteer” and has earned my respect from his work on CERT, the Planning Commission, HARC and the Public Safety Committee. He took the time to learn how the city functions by attending meeting after meeting before volunteering to serve. (There many were rainy, cold nights in Old City Hall when Owen and I were the only attendees in the audience!) His sensibilities for historic preservation and willingness to entertain new uses for the Historic Courthouse demonstrate that he possesses vision for Jacksonville’s future.
I invite you to learn more about the 6 City Council and 2 Mayoral Candidates at a “Meet the Candidate” forum on October 9 at Old City Hall from 7 pm – 8:30 pm. The forum will be moderated by former Jacksonville Review Publisher Carolyn Kingsnorth to offer you an opportunity to learn more. I look forward to seeing you there in Our Small Town with Big Atmosphere!