The game of endorsements

The announcement was made Monday morning. The Navarre Area Board of Realtors endorses current District 4 commissioner on his re-election bid. Period. Why the hurry? Potential candidates don’t have to file until June. We have a year left until the general election. Wouldn’t your endorsement mean more if you waited and  considered more than one candidate? In an email response to our question, NABOR executive director Angela Campbell said, “A recommendation from NABOR is a powerful tool in any political candidate’s arsenal, and not a decision we take lightly.”

She went on to say, “In the short time he has been in office, Williamson has kept his campaign promises, sought the community’s input, delivered results and continues to move Navarre forward in a positive manner, all the while observing the passion our community has for its heritage, environment and hometown feel.”

In light of a new candidate announced Monday, Campbell was asked if she would suspend her endorsement until the board could interview the candidate. The answer was no. “There are no plans, at this time, to deviate from our current position in support of Commissioner Williamson…”

This for the commissioner who wants more development on the beach. The one who is spending $7 million to make our Navarre Park a “world-class park” to draw more people. Who in the dark of night stole a county sign welcoming visitors to the beach on Memorial Day weekend. The one who committed, against the advice of the Tourist Development advisory board, $80,000 to a million dollar for-profit company so they would bring their event to our area only to benefit the counties to our east and west. The one who single handedly took the voice of the Tourist Development advisory board away by ignoring them. He also incited the Navarre Beach Beautification Committee to quit their volunteer positions – calling them “rag tag” and disrespecting their efforts.

That commissioner also suspended funding to the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center in 2015 until his “financial questions” could be answered, insinuating the staff had mismanaged bed tax dollars when in fact it was an accounting error made by the county. He is also the one who has on more than one occasion called Florida Fish and Wildlife with “concerns” about the center – all of which were unfounded according to FWC. He made them jump through hoops after working hard to get the center ready to see if the county would renew their lease at the park.

The commissioner running for re-election has not called for growth management – we have two new residential developments planned just this week – but only sees the tax dollars adding up with more development. Yet, he does not own a home in his district. He is not an ad valorem tax payer here or anywhere for that matter. He moved here when he filed to run for District 4 commissioner. His interests are not Navarre – his interests are in Tallahassee and as a commissioner he represents the north end of the county quite well. He gave up money from the local option sales tax because it just didn’t seem fair for his district to receive so much money – so the people who suffer from flooding will just have to keep on suffering out of “fairness.”

Even the Home Builders Association seems to be at odds with NABOR on endorsing our current commissioner. A letter they sent out to their members explains why impact fees favored by the commissioner are detrimental to small business growth. They used the example of Oops Alley in Pace who would have had to pay a $193,096 impact fee. Under those circumstances, Oops Alley probably wouldn’t have ever opened. They also used a report completed by Dr. Rick Harper to show the economic impact of the construction industry. The letter ended with appreciation to commissioners Bob Cole, Lane Lynchard, Sam Parker and Don Salter for understanding the result of the impact fees.

One would think the board of realtors would align themselves with the true powerful tool in the election box, the Home Builders Association. Not that a large group of realtors isn’t powerful if they all really speak with one voice, but we doubt that is the case here. We know plenty of realtors who won’t be voting for our commissioner for re-election. That kind of takes the wind out of the sails, or power out of the tool as it were.

Their pre-emptive endorsement calls into question the validity of any endorsement from them past or present. If nothing else, we applaud them for their transparency.

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