If you don’t know me, I’m a former Commissioner and Mayor here in Fernandina. I’ve known Bradley’s family for most of my life and they have a long history here in local business and in political life, but that has nothing to do with my endorsement. My reasoning is below, but I see Bradley frequently. Usually he’s in the local YMCA at the same time. I met him long before he decided to run for office and immediately liked his demeanor. He impresses me as fair and honest. He impressed me as genuine, sincere, respectful and exactly the kind of personality I would want to see in local government.
Age is a factor. The commission average age is over 60 and Mayor Miller is the only current member under 60. I feel we are under-represented in some age brackets and it would be healthy to offer a voice to those voters in the interest of diversity. Current Commissioners
History is a factor for me. Bradley is a native and at least third generation island resident. He cares about his family, ranging across all age brackets, but he also has ties with graduation as “Valedictorian” of Fernandina Beach High School and many local friendships.
Yes, his father is a politician. You’d need to be blind not to see the name and associate it with Aaron Bean, our State Senator. I see this as an advantage for Nassau, given the obvious tie and invaluable insights offered to a son.
Eduction is a factor. His industrial engineering degree from the University of Florida will offer insight into issues like the marina, road maintenance needs, beach re-nourishment, drainage and more. Many issues are land use issues, but many issues in front of a commission have more to do with being reasonable and being able to plan for keeping the city running smoothly. Maintaining this or anticipating the cost is important. Any background with land use, construction, engineering or business, lends itself to the position.
Employment is a factor. Bradley works full-time for a local mill. Whether people recognize this or not, we are still a working community in significant proportion. Rayonier, WestRock, Lignotech and the Port of Fernandina employees are significant. If you count retirees and current employees, there is a need to find a voice for jobs and economic diversity. Our biggest issue on the island is in keeping this diversity alive. Our healthy economy is more resistant because we are not singularly dependent upon tourism, unlike many small coastal Florida cities.
Involvement is a factor for me. I won’t name his opponent, but promising to be “full-time” is definitely not a good thing. Understanding the position is meant to be representative, not supervisory, is important. Often commissioners become hyper involved in meetings with staff or in a role stepping on or over the boundary defined in the charter. Bean understands this. I believe the position of staff attorney came after a commissioner in years past spent “MANY” hours camped at a local attorney’s office billing the “research all my questions” time to the taxpayer. No, running as a commissioner is not the same as City Manager. The commission as a whole can give direction to a manager. Individual commissioners or even a Mayor cannot.
The elected position as a city commissioner is meant to offer representation. Voters should see people in office reflecting the local demographics and ages. We’ve had poorly prepared commissioners and commissioners promising to be “full-time”. We have commissioners professing to have experience or be more entitled to a position. As a former commissioner, I believe we need people willing to learn and able to reflect the voter’s views. Some run with negativity, insulting their opponents and some simply ask for your vote. We never want someone attempting to be a “full time commissioner”. This usually means they’re interfering in the day-to-day management of the city. We have a government with 5 commissioners and a Mayor with mostly ceremonial power. He or she is not entitled to any more voice than other commissioners.
So, that said, I hope you consider diversity, education, understanding the limits of the position and long history here on the island when you vote. My vote is going to Bean and I hope you’ll join me.