Letters to the Editor

October 26, 2012
LEED PAC Commissioner Candidate Forum Response

The Lee Education and Economic Development IE Expenditure PAC (LEED PAC) would like to urge voters to make an informed vote this election cycle. Our Forum was confirmed by the candidates a month in advance. By inviting the members of Chamber of Commerce and the Committee of 100 it was designed to inform the business community and the overall taxpayers, both Republican and Democrat, as to how County Commissioner Candidates will perform and react to real life questions and decisions that they will face in office the next four years.  Our questions ranged from hypothetical to current issues. Such as what will you do if a large manufacturer wants to locate here bringing 350 jobs and asking for tax abatements to what is your stance on the Evergreen Solutions report that recommends redistributing the tax burden from the County to the City?  These were fair but direct questions.

In response to the come and then leave behavior of Mr Dolan, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Del Palazzo we want the public to know that the questions posed at our Forum was a good representation of what our Commissioners may face if elected this term.  Is the response by leaving without addressing the voters at our forum representative of how you plan to face these issues if elected? Will you not show up to the discussion if it is a matter that affects property taxes, sales taxes, job creation, job retention, or infrastructure development?  Will you excuse yourself from discussion on teacher salaries, school funding, or education policy? Or is it your hope to avoid answering the questions that ultimately may shape our future until after you are hopefully elected? Will your response on most matters just simply be “my way or the highway”?  What would our County look like if past boards took a duck and dive stance on our Water System in the 60’s or the Airport Decision more recently? These are all decisions that have now been applauded county wide and brought huge returns on investment to our County over time. They made us competitive statewide. These decisions required investment and forward vision but were politically unpopular at the time the vote was taken.  We cannot be confident that these three mentioned candidates would be able to make these types of decisions today.

Mr. Kirk Smith commented in the Sanford Herald that the questions were the LEED PAC’s agenda and not the taxpayers.  It should be noted that the members of LEED PAC area cross section of the largest taxpayers and both small and large businesses in Lee County. Furthermore, these same members are the very people and businesses that countless people and organizations go to time and again for charitable donations or for help with civic projects and community needs. They continue to answer the call. These people deserve your attention during an election cycle.  It would seem good politics, if not simply good manners, to regret ahead of time if unable to attend.  The room was packed (over 75) with business and community leaders who chose to invest their time in hearing what all the Commissioner Candidates had to say to say only to learn that you had a potential campaign donation to collect. Is money really more important that meeting your previous commitment to inform the Lee County Voter? These same people will hold you accountable on a daily basis if you are elected and fail them. LEED PAC expects good sound leadership and forward thinking. We expect compromise over conflict and results today over posturing for political party or ideology.  We think these three candidates behavior is a predictor of future actions if elected commissioner.

Chet Mann

On behalf of LEED IE PAC