FACED WITH TOUGH BUDGET CHOICES IN THE COMING YEARS, AS COMMISSIONER, WOULD YOU BE MORE IN FAVOR OF CUTTING SERVICES OR SECURING ADDITIONAL REVENUE TO BALANCE BUDGETS?
During my four years in office we have faced tough budget choices and I'm proud that I've never voted for a tax increase to balance our budget. Instead, our board has chosen to level, for the three previous years, across-the-board reductions of 5% per year to the operating budgets of all county departments. Because of our fiscal prudence we were not forced to make such decisions this year and instead were able to reduce the millage rate for the land owners of Jackson County. Jackson County has not had an advertised tax increase in 12 years. Because of this fiscal prudence and our successful economic development the county's budgetary outlook remains strong both long and short term.
In Jackson County we have nearly 900 miles of dirt roads. This makes road improvement the top priority of any Commissioner. We are actively engaged in a road paving program totaling over $10 million as an effort to bring relief in this area. These dollars are funded through a one percent sales tax.
IN THIS TIME OF HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS THAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE JACKSON COUNTY'S ECONOMY?
In Jackson County our unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the state. In four years we have added over 600 jobs in our county through direct economic development activities. We must continue to emphasize job creation and be proactive with our resources to bring industry to our county.
IF ELECTED, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO USE YOUR POSITION TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF CITIZENS?
I will continue the good fight we have fought for our citizens over the last four years of job creation, budget control, road improvement and lower taxes. As a young man I hope to spend many more years in Jackson County. Who could be more concerned about the state of our area 50 years from now than someone who will actually still be around? I am the incumbent and am now unopposed in the general election.
BIOGRAPHY BY CANDIDATE:
In 2006, at the age of 23, Jeremy Branch was elected to the Jackson County Commission defeating an opponent who is a long time teacher and former Iraqi War veteran. A former small business owner and farmer, Branch lives on a small farm in southeast Jackson County near Grand Ridge where his family settled in 1840 before Florida was a state. He is a graduate of Grand Ridge School, Chipola College and is a senior level student at The Florida State University. Prior to being elected in 2006, Branch ran for the same seat at the age of 19, in 2002, losing by four percentage points. As a high school student Branch served as chairman of the National Youth Leadership Council, a position earned through a national public speaking competition, among other honors. During college he co-founded a successful heavy equipment land clearing business, which he later sold to his business partner. At the age of 23 Branch was the youngest person ever elected to a county seat in Jackson County and is still the youngest currently serving County Commissioner in Florida. At 25 he was unanimously selected as Chairman, another age record. In June of 2010 received a Presidential Advocacy Award from the Florida Association of Counties for work on behalf of the people during the legislative session. Branch is the son of Donnie and Debbie Branch. His father is a retired FDLE Agent who is now the Under-sheriff of Jackson County and his mother is a retired Registered Nurse who worked with both the Department of Corrections and Florida State Hospital. He and his family currently operate Branch Hay Farm. In August, Branch defeated Democratic challengers William Nelson, a former Sneads Police Chief, and Wesley Kutchey, a Grand Ridge business owner. Branch garnered 66 percent of the vote, his challengers earning 17 percent a piece. The day after the primary his Republican challenger, Michael J. Shores of Round Lake, announced he was withdrawing from the race.