Candidates Forum Feedback

On June 28th the FMLCNA sponsored a Candidates Forum that included 7 of the 8 candidates running for Seats on the City Commission.  Our moderator posed several questions to each of the candidates.  We asked for your feedback on the Forum and any suggestions for future forums of this type.  All personal references to the candidates have been removed.  

Questions from FMLCNA Forum:

1)  What is your position on reducing hours of city bars to close at 1:00 AM instead of 2:00?

2)  Several city neighborhoods have been changed significantly by City permitted construction of institutional buildings in residential neighborhoods.  In the last 30 years, Model Land Co has experienced such intrusion by Flagler College and two churches, all permitted by the City through PUD or zoning variances.  What is your position if a new PUD or request to build institutional buildings is filed for in a RS1/RG1 Residential or a CL1 zoned property that borders residential neighborhoods?

3)  What is your position on San Sebastian Harbor PUD that was recently extended?  How will we cope with 500+ more cars on already crowded King St?  Should the Developer be allowed 50 ft height limit while more recent applications have been restricted to 35 ft?

4)  The City has no permitting process or oversight of long term rental properties.  There are some irresponsible landlords who rent poorly maintained properties and allow unruly renters to disturb neighbors and degrade the look of the neighborhood.   Should St. Augustine institute rental property oversight through licensing and annual inspections?  If yes, we are told no budget exists for this process so how would you propose to fund the effort?

5)  Violators of noise ordinances, parking and traffic rules, property conditions (trash removal, parking on lawns, etc) require a citizen complaint before actions are taken by city law enforcement.  Do you agree with this policy?

–   All good! Thanks so much.

  • I was pleased with the overall exercise.  The venue was not ideal for an activity of this sort, but the candidates didn’t seem deterred.  For me, the greatest value was being able to see and get to know some of the candidates I was unfamiliar with until last night.  My personal view is people follow leaders because of who they are as human beings and not because of what they know, say, or do.  We find leaders with similar values and we attach our loyalty to them because of those values.  I believe we need to find folks who want to work together in a cooperative spirit to solve problems.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked some of the candidates I had not known before the forum last night. My one suggestion for the format would be to use all the questions, but alternate them among candidates without asking the same question of every candidate.  What we want to know is how sets of candidates compare to each other in problem-solving abilities, communication skills, etc.  It gets repetitive and is not that useful after several folks have expressed their views in the same question.  I would have liked to have seen what the response would have been to question one, “moving the bar closing time back to 1:00 A. M.
  • We might consider a debate forum for the Fall prior to the elections. My take on last night was that it was definitely awareness building for the challengers. I though the incumbents countered well with the complexity of the problems we face but with plans to move forward. This was particularly evident in the San Sebastian PUD conversation.  I think one of the best comments came from xxxx about follow up on complaints–“tells us what you did concerning my complaint”.   They all piled on that. IN all, a very good evening.  Thanks to all for organizing and making it happen.

– Good time to give feedback on the forum in case we have another one someday. For me, I wish it could have been more of a debate forum, but too many candidates and not enough time.  Probably achieved raising resident’s awareness of each candidate’s personalities and willingness to answer questions in a direct manner (or give vague answers). The incumbents were successful in dispelling some of the easy answers put forth by the challengers by giving real situation context.

In hindsight, the answers were predictably similar and probably boring toward the last to speak.  Who would disagree, for example,  that codes need to be better enforced.  definitely a softball question. Clearly the “washing machine” joke was the highlight. Having each candidate answer the same question “leveled the playing field” for me.  Even though they could have parroted the same political positions, it was interesting to hear how each candidate voiced their responses – and their posture/poise in doing so.  It was also noteworthy to hear the vitriol expressed, which is an indicator to some voters that a particular candidate, if successful, would start “out of the box” antagonizing other commissioners.

The best forum of this sort I’ve attended is at the Solomon Calhoun Center at the southern end of Lincolnville, which can be noisy, but allows for more of a separation between the dais and the attendees in the seats.  I believe microphones were used before, and the space is larger, with parking.  That being said, the owners of The Floridian were very generous to host us.  More FMLC members no doubt attended last night as they could easily walk to that venue.  Plus, listening while having something more hearty than water was a plus!  The snacks were also very tasty!

-I thought the whole night went well.


– It was well-done, John and Tom…..  It was, in fact, fantastic!


– The questions were definitely “softball.”  Candidates had them in advance and had time to script.  They were clearly “playing to the crowd.”  If a man wants a green suit, you turn on the green light.


However, we have their stated positions on several issues (expansion, PUD, code enforcement) that we can resurrect at needed times in future CC meetings.


Social time before and after the forum allowed everyone face time with the candidates, so overall gain was simply for residents to size up the candidates and learn  more about personalities and character.


– Predictably, the 3 incumbents were well ahead on true facts and figures.  The challengers mostly gave lots of bravado answers about intrusion, rental property, code enforcement, etc without the burden of knowing what the city already had in place.


All supported more code enforcement by City to improve on complaint driven process in place.