Election 2014 endorsements 

We pick ‘em, you decide

The day after #fangate made a mockery of Florida politics (again), the Daily Beast’s Ben Jacobs reduced our state’s gubernatorial race into the political equivalent of a Florida Man story:

“Florida is currently holding a contest between two very strange men to see which one can do the best job pretending to be normal,” he wrote. “The winner gets to be governor.”

That’s about as apt a description of the race as any we’ve seen. Our former Republican governor is running against our current Republican governor, only this time one of them is a Democrat. Challenger Charlie Crist wears a sassy, charming smirk, loves the feel of a cool fan blowing his silvery hair about when he’s on a podium, and is slick, slippery and smoooooth under pressure – even when he was named (repeatedly) as a complicit party in dirty dealings related to former Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer, which rocked the state GOP in 2012, he never lost his cool in public (must have been the fan) and let the allegations roll off his back. Gov. Rick Scott, on the other hand, is horrifyingly awkward, generates less warmth than a robotic Mitt Romney on the 2012 campaign trail and sputters his way through public appearances, bristling at tough questions and dodging straight answers while trying to kick up a dust cloud he can hide behind.

Each of them insist that, if elected, the other will bring ruin to the state – however, we’ve lived under the administration of both, and somehow we’ve lived to tell the tale.

What’s a conscientious voter to do?

It’s not easy making a choice when both of your most viable ones seem distasteful. We feel your pain – really, we do – but despite that gut feeling that something’s not quite right about either of these candidates, we don’t want you to skip out on this election.

For one thing, Crist and Scott are not your only choices. There are a handful of alternative candidates on the ballot this year, in case you really, really can’t stomach voting for either of the major-party picks – see coverage of the third-party and unaffiliated candidates in our Oct. 15 issue for more information – and no matter what anyone tells you, voting for a third-party candidate is not throwing away your vote. It can also be seen as a vote of no confidence, or a protest vote. Are you potentially acting as a spoiler, drawing candidates away from one candidate who could otherwise win an election? Possibly. But it’s your vote. Nobody owns it, and you can do whatever you like with it.

But more importantly, it’s not just the top-of-the-ticket races that make a difference in government – those smaller races you don’t know much about are often just as important as (and sometimes more important than) the marquee ones. For instance, did you know that the state’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services is a key player in water and energy conservation, charities regulation, state forests, food inspection, unethical business practices and more? Did you know that there are multiple people running to represent you as Orange County Soil and Water District Supervisor, an unpaid position that helps landowners protect natural resources and implement conservation measures around the county?

In addition to the people running for so-called lesser races, there are also opportunities this election season to vote on matters that directly impact the future of Florida – will we have legal medical marijuana? Will we be more aggressive about putting money toward environmental conservation? Should we make our local elections more transparent?

We know it can all be a little overwhelming, but that’s why we’ve put together this elections endorsements issue – to help you cut through some of the circus act and get to the heart of what matters on this year’s ballot. Use it when you go to the polls – whether you’re Republican or Democrat or neither, you should be able to decide whether our endorsements drive you to a particular candidate or drive you away.

The polls are open for early voting now through Nov. 2, and on Nov. 4, you can vote at your traditional polling place. Visit ocfelections.com for more information. Don’t let the less-than-ideal options get you down. Just do it. – Erin Sullivan

Governor: Charlie Crist (Democrat)

As many critics will attest, there is no whitewashing the concept of a reformed Charlie Crist as he has made his way from Republican governor to independent senatorial loser to Democratic gubernatorial hopeful. Sure, he was the four-year hood ornament for the Republican Party of Florida during his peak-position tenure of 2006 to 2010; sure, those years happened to sprout the gloriously questionable fruits of former RPOF chair-turned-criminal Jim Greer and current U.S. Senator (former Florida House Speaker) Marco Rubio’s credit card; sure, he does give off the air of “career politician” in that particular sneer peculiar to campaign advertisement vernacular. However, we know what we had in Crist and now we know exactly what we don’t have in Gov. Rick Scott.

There are a ton of reasons not to vote for Scott – key among them his failure to produce any legislative progress in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which might have saved nearly a million Floridians from medical peril (people are dying); initially, he buckled on the issue, but then took a strong stance against it (and anything related to President Barack Obama). He’s also the most unlikely and unlikable governor in Florida history. He dropped $75 million from his vast fortune – money made on the back of the country’s largest Medicare fraud case ever, perpetrated by his former medical corporation Columbia/HCA – to virtually buy the race against Democratic opponent Alex Sink four years ago.

As recent debates have proven, there’s a palpable discomfort lying beneath the skin of this governor that stretches beyond the issues of his history or his policies. Scott has been noted by virtually every media source in the state for his unwillingness to answer questions. His evasion is legendary, and in the debate format, downright uncomfortable to watch. In person, he is likewise vague and unresponsive, diverting most answers into the timeworn realm of “job creation” – never mind the kind of jobs Scott has helped to create and how little they pay. Scott has waged a war on teachers in public education while simultaneously touring the state’s public schools; he’s cut state jobs while at the same time making a show of serving doughnuts or selling groceries during his “Let’s Get to Work” days, to show, presumably, what real work looks like; he’s boasted about transparency while hiring a legal firm in California to defend him from being transparent about private Google accounts he secretly used around the time of his inauguration. The very fact that we’re discussing his merits in the context of a dead-heat campaign almost says worse things about Florida than it does about the man himself.

The good news, however, is that the Crist campaign has held true to its moderate positioning from its start last November, seaming together his past with his present respectfully and effectively. While not a perfect leader – really, which politician is? – we’re inclined to buy the argument that Crist didn’t leave the Republican Party so much as that party left him in the splashes of a radical tea party. He’s proven himself willing to take the flip-flop criticisms and turn them into conversations: He supports LGBT marriage rights, supports women’s reproductive rights (while in office, he vetoed the mandatory ultrasound bill that Scott would later sign into law), supports the legalization of medical marijuana, supports environmental improvements, is in favor of Medicaid expansion and increasing the minimum wage – he basically ticks all of the boxes required to earn the trust of a progressive, middle-class Floridian population. It isn’t easy being a party-hopper in politics, but Crist has faced down his foes and his past with remarkable aplomb.

At a time when Floridians’ personal and financial fates feel more fragile than national trends would have you believe, a vote for Crist – and a vote against Scott – is a vote to make Florida better.

Attorney General: George Sheldon (Democrat)

We sort of promised ourselves this wouldn’t be an endorsement pile-on of antipathy in lieu of smiling support, but in the case of current Attorney General Pam Bondi, this race is almost absolutely about her and her failure to represent the interests of the state. It’s no secret that Bondi has wasted taxpayer dollars attempting to fight the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, has been party to a confusing (if not fraught with fraud) big-bank foreclosure lawsuit that ended with not much changing at all, has fought tooth and nail to block gay marriage in Florida, and callously shifted the execution date of a prisoner because it conflicted with her campaign fundraiser (she later apologized, but still). She is, in short, an embarrassment.

Sheldon is no stranger to state office. He served as deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth and later secretary of the Department of Children and Families when Charlie Crist was governor (in addition to being a state representative in prior years). In recent media appearances, Sheldon has made it clear that his office, should he occupy it, would not pursue the whims of the executive office, but rather the interests of the people. He would support marriage equality, medical marijuana, consumer protections, reproductive rights and “keeping politics out of the AG’s office.” Sheldon for the win.

Chief Financial Officer: Jeff Atwater (Republican)

It’s not often that we find ourselves casting our lot with an incumbent Republican with a business background, so mark this date on your calendar. While Democratic opponent Will Rankin paints Atwater as a do-nothing who has failed to be aggressive about fraud, waste and corruption, we view Atwater as a sound public servant who has pushed for crackdowns on Medicare fraud, has ensured that all state contracts and records are recorded online for public viewing and has made responsible investment decisions for the state, bringing in additional revenue where it’s very much needed.

Atwater has managed to stay (mostly) out of the fray of dirty politics, and we get emails from his office on the regular, keeping us apprised of news and information (refreshingly without the taint of political spin, which we can’t say for other elected officials in this administration) about crime, fraud, insurance, unclaimed property and identity theft.

Rankin may have good ideas, and some of his criticisms may indeed be valid, but from our perspective, Atwater is taking an important job seriously and has thus far raised the bar for the office. He gets our vote.

Agriculture Commissioner: Thaddeus Hamilton (Democrat)

There are lots of things we do like about Republican incumbent Adam Putnam – unlike a lot of Republican politicians, he shows an interest in (and not just lip service to) such things as renewable energy, water conservation and even school lunches. He’s that rare beast who actually seems like he’s in his job to do the work, not just hold the office. However, he’s made some suspicious stumbles that we find more than a little off-putting – enough that it’s hard to trust his priorities. For instance, he joined his fellow Republicans on an odd hunting junket sponsored by Big Sugar interests (which, it should be noted, are staunch opponents of water regulation). He is, perplexingly, an opponent of Amendment 2, which would legalize medical marijuana in Florida. He’s voted against restoration of voting rights for felons, and he has (again, oddly) pushed for the elimination of the state’s unfunded solar-rebate program. Finally, he claims that water conservation and quality are a focus of his agency, but we have yet to see him take significant leadership on water quality or quantity issues.

Although the Agriculture and Consumer Services Commission is one of those races that flies under the radar, it’s a key position in the state – the commissioner oversees concealed weapons, agriculture, energy policy, water management and more. We think it’s too important to pass off for another four years to somebody who’s more than likely using the job as a stepping stone to higher office (Putnam, an aspiring star in the Florida Republican party, is expected to run for governor in 2018). Thad Hamilton, the Democratic challenger, has the experience to do the job and then some – he’s a retired lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Army, he has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he’s served on a variety of local and state environmental and restoration projects. He sees medical marijuana as a potential boon to our state’s agricultural economy, he views conservation as key to our state’s future, and he’s dedicated to raising the quality of life for the state without sacrificing our natural resources. He calls this job his “life’s calling,” and that’s the sort of enthusiasm for the position the state needs.

U.S. Representative District 5: No endorsement

It’s tough to find a lot to really like about incumbent Corrine Brown’s decade-long tenure in this office – she helped create, then argued to keep, the janky, gerrymandered redistricting maps that have dominated state news over the past year, and the Washingtonian dubbed her the second-most Most Clueless member of the House this year – but we’re also not so keen on her sole challenger, Glo Smith. Smith, a Republican, is uninspiring, and her shallow platform is just vague enough to attract the party faithful (Obamacare bad, respecting the Constitution good). Both Brown and Smith strike us as the type of politicians who’d perpetuate business as usual in Washington. Quite frankly, the voters of District 5 deserve better. If you want someone who’ll vote with the Democratic caucus, vote for Brown. If you want someone who’ll probably be a loyal Republican, vote Smith.

U.S. Representative District 7: Al Krulick (no party affiliation)

Here’s the thing about this race that’s infuriating: The incumbent, John Mica, is a Republican whose environmental record is … well, let’s just say he voted no on allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, no on tax credits for using renewable energy, no on tax incentives to encourage research and development of renewables, no on tax incentives for conservation and yes on offshore oil drilling and exploration. In other words, he’s status quo (or worse) when it comes to environmental issues. Technically, there’s also a Democrat in this race. We say technically because Wes Neuman’s name will be on the ballot. However, Neuman’s not actually running – he stopped campaigning in September. He sent the Orlando Sentinel a statement saying it was “arrogant and foolish” for him to decide to run and that the local Democratic party did not offer him enough support to sustain his campaign. Neither Neuman nor the party have attempted to remove his name from the ballot, so he’ll end up with votes anyway. But for those who really want change in this seat, there’s still another viable option on this ballot: Al Krulick, a registered Dem who’s not afraid to speak up on progressive issues, is a staunch supporter of environmental issues, raising the minimum wage, advocating for universal healthcare and getting “dark” money out of politics. Krulick doesn’t have the coveted “D” after his name on this ballot, but he’s certainly got more going for him than the guy who does.

U.S. Representative District 9: Alan Grayson (Democrat)

Without fail, Congressman Alan Grayson has helped define Florida’s political progressive base, both in office and when he was temporarily out of office. His defense of civil liberties, outspoken presence on the national stage, and willingness to be a voice for people over corporations and general intellectualism make him an asset to the state as it is represented in Washington, D.C. Pretty sure he’s also aware he won’t lose this congressional seat to his Republican challenger Carol Platt, a realtor with close ties to the Bush family, the RPOF and their various campaigns. Regardless, we say vote Grayson. He’s fun.

U.S. Representative District 10: Michael McKenna (Democrat)

You’ve probably heard of incumbent Congressman Dan Webster more than you’ve actually seen him. He made mild news back in 2011 when tea-party folks were ranting about the death panels of that dreaded “Obamacare,” but he’s not exactly been dynamic in holding his public position. Webster was still able to defeat Democrat Val Demings in 2012, but only by a small margin.

Navy veteran, Eagle Scout and Democrat Michael McKenna – who is utilizing Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” on his campaign website to suitably quizzical effect – seems like a long shot, but based on standard issues of popular concern (human rights of all flavors, really), is a good bet.

State Senate District 12: Sen. Geraldine Thompson (Democrat)

They don’t come more measured and wise than Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson. From Medicaid expansion to education priorities to workers’ rights to repealing the state’s absurd “Stand Your Ground” law, Thompson has advocated on the right side of every issue this state should be concerned about. Her opponent, little-known Republican Edward DeAguilera, seems moderate enough, but with the ever-present “hold the line on taxes” manifesto that usually indicates preferential treatment to corporate interests, we’re not really interested. Vote to re-elect Geraldine Thompson.

State Senate District 14: Darren Soto (Demcrat)

Though we may have given Darren Soto a hard time back in the days of his House tenure (“Pulling strings,” May 7, 2009) – all in good fun! – the former young Democrat, now maturing Democrat, has rarely failed to impress with his legislative performance, especially since his senatorial ascent in 2012. He’s stood up for the right issues – living wages, public schools, health-care expansion – while riding the middle on taxes and infrastructural concerns like SunRail. His opponent, independent Devin Norton, would almost win our approval for his metal-beard and bar-ownership alone, but the state Senate is too important a legislative body for that kind of irony pageantry.

State Representative District 28: no endorsement

There are few who come off more smugly on the House floor than incumbent state Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, who is a chambercrat, a dyed-in-the-wool conservative and somebody who boasts about things like a “Cattlemen’s Dinner Fellowship” on his campaign website. However, we can’t endorse his Libertarian opponent Franklin Perez (who has already filed to run again in 2016, after five failed bids), mostly because we spoke with him and the conversation veered toward Palestine, supporting privatization of schools and the rights of sex workers. No endorsement on this one. Take your sad pick.

State Representative District 30: Karen Castor Dentel (Democrat)

While State Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, ran a fairly positive campaign as a teacher wanting to make a difference in Tallahassee, she was dogged by negative publicity from Republicans (obviously) who went as far as to release a mailer comparing her to convicted child molester from Penn State, Jerry Sandusky … because she supported a teacher’s union. This year, the mudslinging is a bit tamer. Former Longwood city commissioner and Republican Bob Cortes has been making the rounds claiming that Castor Dentel has been ineffective in her first two years without noting that the incumbent has pretty broad and moderate cross-the-aisle support, not to mention a respectable political lineage to back her up. Cortes’ claims that Castor Dentel can’t get anything passed on her own only go to show how one-sided the Legislature has become; the good ol’ boys always win. For her tireless work on public education issues – among other things – we endorse Karen Castor Dentel.

State Representative District 44: Matthew Falconer (no party affiliation)

We never thought we would do this – seriously, never – but having spoken with former Orange County mayoral hopeful Matt Falconer, who may or may not be having a hangover from a tea party, we’re convinced that, at least in this race, an outsider is a solid bet. Falconer is against the special-interest flirtations of his “former party,” and speaks strongly of ethics reform. Also, his brother is a Democrat! Incumbent Eric Eisnaugle, R-Orlando, is a chamber baby draped in special interests; also, he’s already slated to be House Speaker in 2020, because Republicans are really good at planning ahead when the game is rigged.

State Representative District 46: Bruce Antone (Democrat)

Antone is a relative newcomer to Statehouse politics, having won his seat in 2012, but we like what he’s brought to the table – he’s teamed up with city politicians to try to bring jobs to west Orlando, he’s challenged the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground laws and he’s advocated for making it easier for regular citizens (not just rich ones) to run and hold office. Antone’s only competition is a write-in opponent. We feel good about sending Antone back to represent Orlando in Tally.

State Representative District 47: Linda Stewart (Democrat)

State Rep. Linda Stewart has been a solid advocate for issues affecting Central Floridians for a decade, having served two terms as a county commissioner (before losing a run for county mayor in 2010). Her tenacity on environmental and equality issues is commendable, as is her willingness to make fun of herself in that bawdy Southern drawl. Republican Mike Miller has been running advertisements saying that Stewart is in love with tax hikes, because that’s what Republicans typically do in political races, but Stewart faced him down last week and told him that was a lie. Regardless, Stewart is our pick for District 47.

State Representative District 49: Joe Saunders (Democrat)

Two years ago, State Rep. Joe Saunders became one of the first openly gay representatives ever elected to the Florida legislature – a landmark unto itself – but he’s not rested on any laurels. His willingness to speak truth to power and ask questions of the Republican majority has been remarkable, especially on issues involving public education and workforce discrimination. Republican opponent Rene “Coach P” Placensia, who lost the primary for this seat two years ago, seems to be more of a plant by the Republican Party of Florida than a genuine contender. His smear ads on television have been beyond the “dog whistle” pale as well.

Amendment 1, Water and Land Conservation – Dedicates Funds to Acquire and Restore Florida Conservation and Recreation Lands: Vote yes

When set alongside the arguments in favor of Amendment 1, the arguments against this particular amendment are flimsy and transparent. Opponents say that the state constitution is not the place to enshrine spending measures, even if the spending is for something as vital as clean water; they point out that it’s the state Legislature’s job to find ways to fund conservation, and they also like to point out that giving the state more money to buy up land for conservation purposes takes property off the tax rolls. Those arguments are easily countered – first, there’s no place more appropriate to guarantee the citizens of the state that we’ll do our best to protect our most precious natural resource (water) than in the constitution; second, the state Legislature has been an abysmal failure when it comes to handling our rather frightening statewide water crisis; and third, the tax rolls are doomed anyway if we see our economy collapse because too many municipalities no longer have easy access to fresh, potable water. Though that sounds very doomsday, it’s a very distinct possibility if we don’t get creative about protecting our water resources now. Amendment 1 may be the most creative workaround to force our state government to do something. We’re voting yes, and we think you should, too.

Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions: Vote yes

Opponents of this measure like to prey on people’s fears – they say that if we legalize use of marijuana for medical purposes, our children will become drug addicts, family tourism to Florida will decline and our communities will be overrun with “pill mill”-style dispensaries that hand out pot to practically anybody who walks in the door. But the reality is that marijuana is proven to be a useful drug that’s way too difficult for people who need it to obtain. In addition, it has the potential to bring in new tax revenues, new jobs and new economic opportunities for Florida residents. And in places where medical marijuana has already been passed, there has hardly been a complete devolution of the culture. Don’t let the fear-mongering win. Vote yes on 2.

Amendment 3, Prospective Appointments of Certain Judicial Vacancies: Vote no

This amendment fixes a problem that doesn’t exist – its proponents say that the process by which judges are appointed is vague and confusing and this amendment is the answer. However, the process is not confusing. The sitting governor appoints judges when judicial vacancies arise. This amendment wants to create a situation in which an outgoing governor can appoint “prospective” judges to fill positions that may become vacant when a new governor takes office – in other words, it attempts to keep a new governor from naming new appointees; instead, it gives the outgoing governor one last shot at dictating the state’s future before he’s booted out. We can’t help but think that this measure is an attempt by the current administration to maintain a teeny bit more control, just in case Crist wins in November. Worried much? Vote no on Amendment 3.

Orange County Clerk of the Courts: Tiffany Moore Russell (Democrat)

We appreciate what Eddie Fernandez has done in the short time he’s held the position of Clerk of the Courts. Appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in early 2014 to take the position after the 2013 death of former clerk Lydia Gardner, Fernandez has managed to cut costs in the office and help it run more efficiently. He has also promised to energize the office and make it more visible, but has he actually changed anything substantial while holding position? Aside from opening up Clerk of Courts offices to people who want to drop off domestic partnership forms and deputizing employees of Harbor House so they can provide services for victims of domestic violence as needed, not a whole lot has changed. The court system is confusing for most people, and the Clerk of the Courts is the portal through which people access the system – we’d like to see a Clerk of the Courts who makes citizen access and education a priority.

Tiffany Moore Russell, who has been the only progressive voice on the County Commission for the past four years, has been a champion of transparency (she happens to have been one of the few county commissioners not involved in the Textgate scandal). She promises to improve technological shortcomings on the Clerk of Courts website so documents can be uploaded in real time; she promises to make consumer guidance and information more readily available; finally, she promises to continue increasing the office’s efficiency. While we think Fernandez may have things headed in the right direction, he’s had 10 months to wow us – and so far, we’re a bit underwhelmed. We’re ready to see what Russell brings to the table.

School Board District 3: Regina Hellinger

It may be a nonpartisan race, but the choice between Regina Hellinger and Linda Kobert to fill Rick Roach’s vacated school board seat reads a bit like the obvious party lines. Kobert, allegedly supported by elected school board chairman (and Republican) Bill Sublette, held a hefty lead in the August primary. But she is also likely to support the board’s current plan to re-create public education as we know it at Sublette’s behest. Hellinger, an actual award-winning teacher, wants decisions brought back to the level where the people actually work with children. We recommend Hellinger.

Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Group 2: Steve Beumer

Unlike the situation for Group 4 (see below), we don’t see as much enthusiasm, passion and vision for this seat as we’d like. However, after reviewing the statements the candidates made to the League of Women Voters, we see the most vision coming from Steven Beumer, who says he’s frustrated to see that the Soil and Water supervisors have become “figureheads” with little power. He says he wants to advocate for more active, engaged Soil and Water boards. We think that if Beumer is as committed to that statement – if he even shows up for meetings, as some Soil and Water supervisors fail to do far too often – a lot more could be accomplished.

Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, Group 4: Eric Rollings

It’s been downright refreshing to see two candidates expressing as much passion and interest in this undersung, underappreciated, unpaid and relatively unknown county elected position. Brian Fenn says he’s pursuing the seat because he’s a lifelong “tree hugger” who loves to be outdoors and wants to preserve the state’s resources through education and funding. Eric Rollings, an Orlando real estate agent, also says he’s passionate about conservation and the environment. Both men support Amendment 1, which would set aside funding from the sale of real estate to conserve land and water. Both say they want to educate the public about the environmental pressures facing Florida and take more definitive action to protect our dwindling fresh water resources.

But here’s where we see one candidate, Rollings, as taking the lead. Where Fenn may be passionate, Rollings has already started putting in the time to make these things happen. He doesn’t just support Amendment 1 – he volunteered with the League of Women Voters to get the signatures needed to get the amendment on the ballot. He joined a coalition of environmentalists in Tallahassee earlier this year to urge them to support a Clean Water Declaration. He’s already served as an associate supervisor on the Soil and Water Conservation District board, and he also stepped in to take the reins as supervisor for Group 5 when another supervisor stepped down. He even hopes to take money he’s raised on the campaign trail and use it to help boost the board’s seriously depleted coffers. In short, Rollings has both the experience and the vision we think the Soil and Water Conservation District needs to move forward. This is a critical juncture for Florida’s environment – the Soil and Water Conservation Districts have been neglected for too long, and we need somebody who’s engaged and who understands how they need to be structured to function. We think Rollings is the right man for the job.

Orange County Commission District 2: Alvin Moore

The race to replace county curmudgeon Fred Brummer is another that seems to be drawn strictly on party lines, even though (for now; see below) the commission race is nonpartisan. Bryan Nelson has been holding fundraisers with Republican Commissioners Jennifer Thompson and Ted Edwards – and voted in the House for pre-emption of local control, effectively delivering the “kill shot” to earned sick time, thereby preventing voters from having a voice. Alvin Moore, meanwhile, has been rubbing shoulders with Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson, State Sen. Geraldine Thompson and other power Democrats and supports issues that are key to the county, like transportation and smart development. It also helps that he supported the right of local citizens to vote on earned sick time two years ago. There should be more of a political balance on the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. We endorse Moore.

Orange County Commission District 6: no endorsement

Victoria Siplin and Derrick Wallace are vying for this seat. One of them (Wallace) is allegedly being guided by Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ advisor John Dowless; the other is married to the most Republican Democrat we’ve seen in Tallahassee (Siplin), the one who fought against “droopy drawers.” Nobody wins in this race.

County Charter Question A, Regarding Elections on Citizens Intitiatives: Vote no

Just one of the ridiculous “Brummer bummers” to come out of a well-rehearsed power grab this spring, this proposed charter amendment seeks to extend the amount of time for citizen initiatives to be considered (or, as history has shown, killed) from 45 days to 150 days. That’s ridiculous. As if we needed any more evidence of a county government not respecting its citizenry. Vote no.

County Charter Question B, Regarding Limiting the Power to Amend the Charter: Vote no

Another portion of the aforementioned power grab effectively gives the county commission the vague ability to refuse citizen-led initiatives that seek to improve pay or benefits for workers at private businesses (like earned sick time or even wage theft). It also won’t allow citizens to get initiatives through that will in any way harm the commissioners on the dais. This self-serving piece of work deserves all the criticism it can get. Please vote no.

County Charter Question C, Regarding Moving Countywide Charter Office Elections and Making Charter Offices Partisan: Vote yes

As evidenced by the Textgate scandal of 2012, the Republican Party is already controlling the thoughts and votes of your elected “nonpartisan” county commission. This ruse is destructive on its face as it sustains the illusion that special interests are not in fact in control when they really are. Partisan elections would inform voters, increase transparency and keep your elected officials honest. Also, this was a citizen’s initiative and we can’t watch yet another one die. Vote yes.

County Charter Question D, Providing Term Limits and Nonpartisan Elections for County Constitutional Officers: Vote No

The third of the county- and chamber-backed questions (only Question C came from the citizens of Orange County) is a thinly veiled attack aimed at disgruntled Democrats holding county constitutional offices. It’s revenge against Tax Collector Scott Randolph, basically (Brummer attempted to get rid of Randolph’s position all together earlier this year), who has been supporting making commission seats partisan (Question C). These games shouldn’t be played out in such a petty fashion by the commission. Vote no.

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