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Ormond Beach Observer Wednesday, Sep. 26, 2012 5 years ago

Stowers, Burton spar in City Commission candidate forum

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The election between current Zone 1 Commissioner James Stowers and challenger Alan Burton represents the only contested seat on the City Commission for the Nov. 6 election. 

BY MATT MENCARINI | STAFF WRITER

There’s only one contested seat on the Ormond Beach City Commission that will be on the ballot on Nov. 6. That seat represents Zone 1. The incumbent, James Stowers, is being challenged by Alan Burton, the same man he beat in a close race two years ago.

The two candidates attended the Sept. 20 City and Neighbors Devoted to Ormond (CANDO) meeting at Ormond Beach Union Church to discuss several topics. The follow is excerpts of their respective answers to six of the questions presented to them.

What is the city’s greatest strength?

Stowers: “Our greatest strength, I believe: quality of life. … At the end of the day, when you look at our recreational facilities, when you look at the quality of life that we have through our businesses, with the residents who live here, with the quality of our neighborhoods, there is a reason why people want to move to Ormond Beach. And so I’m very proud of that.”

Burton: “The city’s greatest strength, or as I look at it, the basic or essential attribute shared by all of us in this room and in Ormond Beach, is the community’s overall financial condition. And that includes homeowners, businesses and government. … The financial stability also provides the basis for the quality of life that we all have come to know and expect.”

What is the most critical issue facing our city?

Stowers: “To me, it’s unfunded liabilities. You’re looking at $29 million plus, in the next 10 to 20 years.”

Burton: “The most critical issue facing our city is the networth of Ormond Beach and unfunded liability.”

In the city’s only contested race, what motivated your candidacy and what needs changing? (for challenger only)

Burton: “Growing up through the 50s and the 60s and the 70s, I have a global thing saying that a person can run for any office, any time. And that’s a part of the great tradition of the United States of America. … What’s also central to myself is servant leadership. (It’s) central to my life and life experience.”

With four seats uncontested, what major accomplishments have contributed to a high level of community approval in this commission? (for incumbent only)

Stowers: “I think I’ve had quite a bit of support. When you drive around and look at businesses, you look at the residential areas, you see a lot of my signs out there. I think we have (as a commission) risen to the challenge when we have issues in front of us. … We are focused and we deal with the issue at hand and we get through it.”

The downtown CRA has brought millions of dollars of cosmetic changes to Granada Boulevard. How does this investment benefit taxpayers?

Stowers: “If you go back 25 years, and you talk about old Ormond Hotel. You talk about the state of disrepair of The Casements. ... And I wasn’t around then, but I've been around long enough now to know the entire downtown was in a state of disrepair. … I absolutely see a utility to CRAs. They certainly have a shelf life. There’s a point where that blight has been so long it’s gone away.”

Burton: “If you look at a CRA downtown, does it promote lower property taxes? In a broader sense, in a very macro sense, it doesn’t. Does a CRA promote private investment? No. Does the CRA boost debt-free prosperity? No, it increases debt. And does a CRA nurture a healthy Ormond Beach? I don’t think so. Now, the benefits from a CRA and those from outside the CRA are not equal.”

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