The Observer Endorsements
In a few days, probably within hours of this issue hitting the driveways, we will start getting letters to the editor saying we shouldn’t have done endorsements. “Let us think for ourselves!” and “What makes you so high and mighty as to tell me how to vote?”
We feel it’s our responsibility to endorse. We care about this community. We want the best people to be elected. And we have done our homework, so we want to share it with you.
This fall, we interviewed the candidates. Then, we formed an ad hoc editorial board, analyzed their answers, independently scored them using a ratings system and then met and debated as to which candidates we should endorse as a newspaper.
Here’s who we would recommend. If you agree, vote. If not, vote anyway.
U.S. House District 6: Ron DeSantis
Heather Beaven is smart, tough and passionate. But in the questionnaire we sent her, she spent most of her allotted space trying to deconstruct the questions, rather than proposing solutions to the problems facing our country. Some solutions she does propose are worrisome. For example, she says that to become energy independent, the federal government should convert its vehicles to natural gas and use that leverage to only award contracts to companies that will also convert to natural gas.
That sounds like a good idea on the surface, but it’s also perpetuating the problem of a federal government playing the role of picking winners and losers. The economy is simply too big and too complex for lawmakers to be in charge of it. The way to generate maximum productivity is to rely on the ingenuity of business owners to come up with solutions, let them try them out, and see who succeeds.
Ron DeSantis is young, fiery and a natural born leader. He has the potential to be a Republican star on the national stage. We knew him when …
More importantly, DeSantis shares our view of the role of government. Let’s give more and more control back to states and communities. And let’s stop ignoring this $16 trillion debt. As much as we might like the government to provide for us, we simply can’t afford it. It’s irresponsible. And quite frankly, it’s embarrassing that we have let our country get into such bad debt.
DeSantis is a man on a mission to bring us back to fiscal responsibility. We recommend DeSantis.
Florida Senate, District 6: John Thrasher
Kathleen Trued’s answers to our questionnaire didn’t inspire us. She criticized privatization of government functions, which we normally believe is positive. She said government should partner with banks and “spare our citizens from the devastation of foreclosure.” We don’t wish foreclosure on any family, but partnering with banks to stop foreclosure is not the proper role of government.
By contrast, long-time Florida legislator John Thrasher mostly stuck with Republican platitudes. He offered no specifics of his vision for the future. But, he supports free-market principles as a general rule, so we’ll stick with him.
We recommend John Thrasher.
Florida House of Representatives, District 24: Milissa Holland
In general, Travis Hutson has sound ideas, and he has plenty of support from party leaders. We could support him in some election years. But in this election year, he’s running against Milissa Holland.
Holland has track record of public service. A Democrat with an open mind, she has the courage to vote against the majority when she feels strongly about an issue. She’s tough on the budget. As someone who has dealt with unfunded state mandates as a county commissioner, she is a fierce advocate of home rule. She has been a consensus-builder at the local level, and she will be at the state level, too.
While Hutson touts his business experience and leadership qualities, he just doesn’t have all that much life experience.
We recommend Holland.
City Commissioner, Zone 1: James Stowers
Demeanor is usually considered a quality for judge candidates, but it also matters on the City Commission. James Stowers is professional. He’s a team player. Alan Burton, on the other hand, is a former city employee who left on bad terms and seems bent on making his mark, rather than simply serving the residents.
We recommend Stowers.
School Board, District 4: Linda Costello
Incumbent Judy Conte has served her community for decades. But in our interview, she said she would be leaning toward retirement if anyone but Linda Costello were running against her.
That doesn’t fill us with confidence in Conte.
Conte admits the quality of education has diminished of late, but she offers little by way of solutions. Costello, meanwhile, points to several ways to fix the budget. They might all be shot down by district staff, but at least she’s being creative, and she has the kids’ best interests at heart.
For her energy, we recommend Costello.
Volusia Sheriff: Ben Johnson
Challenger Wendell Bradford says if you want a politician, vote for Johnson, but if you want a cop as a sheriff, vote for Bradford.
But really, being a sheriff is mostly about being an administrator. Johnson oversaw the consolidation of emergency call centers, which is no small feat. He is a record keeper and has been a manager of personnel for decades.
Bradford, meanwhile, does not have the administrative experience that would justify ousting Johnson.
We recommend Johnson.
County Council Chair: Carl Persis
Jason Davis is the outsider’s candidate. But his business background isn’t particularly impressive, and when asked how to fix the county’s problems, he says he’ll let us know when he has a chance to study how everything works after he’s elected.
Carl Persis, meanwhile, has been a school principal, a city commissioner, a mayor and has been on the County Council. He has good ideas about fixing the county’s permitting problems. He’s got the experience and commands the respect needed for a council chair.
We recommend Persis.
County Council, District 4: Doug Daniels
While both candidates left something to be desired in their email questionnaires, Doug Daniels is the one who stood out in the in-person interviews at our office.
As a businessman, he understands the frustrations businesses have in working with the permitting process at the county level. He would be an asset.
When asked why we should vote for her, Shannon McLeish spent her whole time telling us why not to vote for Daniels. McLeish has enthusiasm and wants to shake things up. But she seems to be focused more on national problems than county ones.
We recommend Daniels.