Wakulla County Commission District 4: Howard Kessler / Jerry Moore

Howard Kessler

PLEASE RANK THE FOLLOWING SERVICES IN ORDER OF YOUR GREATEST TO LEAST SUPPORT:
• improving storm water and flood control infrastructure
• expanding public transportation & safer pedestrian and bicycle corridors
• offering economic development incentives
• operating County Parks and Recreation programs
• supporting arts and cultural activities
• adequately staffing new and expanded libraries
• supporting services for homeless

#1. We are a caring people and those in need of food and shelter deserve our first attention. I actively help collect food for food pantries in our County. Our Senior Center provides meals on wheels and many other fine services. Lighthouse Ministries does a wonderful job in providing a safety net. Our County has no plan in place of how to respond to a person or family, who because of this terrible economy or other circumstance becomes homeless. We need to develop a plan that addresses homelessness.

#2. Offering economic incentives is an important piece of how we attract business to our county. In addition we have a terrific school system and a rural character that are major drivers for businesses and families to move to Wakulla County. The partnership that is taking place between Tallahassee Community College and Wakulla County in creating The Wakulla Environmental Institute will allow for additional economic incentives. I have been involved and continue to be involved with the development of this Institute, which will provide many new jobs and opportunities for our citizens. The Wakulla Environmental Institute will be a complete satellite campus located on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Road.

#3. I have served as Chairman of the Board of Wilderness Coast Public Libraries and presently serve on its Board. I am a member of the Friends of the Library that supports our Wakulla County Public Library. Our library provides a great summer program as well as many special activities throughout the year that include preschool, youth, teen as well as programs for all. Currently plans for a satellite library are being developed.

#4. Investing and providing a safe environment and activities for our youth is essential. Our youth represents our future. There is no better investment we can make. We must change direction and fund our new community center. Investing in our youth now is a much better investment than spending money on more jail beds later.

#5 A storm-water study has been done for Wakulla Gardens, one of the most affected residential areas of our county. The implementation of flood control infrastructure has started with the purchase of multiple lots. It is a mistake to allow building in such areas without first having the needed infrastructure. It is unfair to those who invest in purchasing their homes in that subdivision. The lack of storm-water infrastructure degrades the quality of life of our citizens and devalues their homes. The County is about to begin to stabilize the dirt roads of Wakulla Gardens with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gravel obtained through a grant at no cost to our citizens. This is a very positive first step. Storm-water and flooding issues have to be addressed throughout our County. The County has to also help by seeking grants and explore all options so that our most economically challenged citizens get the infrastructure they need, such as sewer connections, without them shouldering the full economic burden.

#6. Safe areas to walk and bike add to our quality of life. I was involved with the first meetings of the Ochlockonee Bay Bike/pedestrian trail that is now, after many years of planning, soon to begin construction. I brought forward the vision of the Capital City to the Sea Loop, a bike/pedestrian path that when completed will cover more than 120 miles, be in at least three counties and pass through many towns and cities. Letters of support from the various counties, communities, as well as, the transportation planning agency have been obtained. The longer the trail, the more jobs it will help create and the more money it will bring to our county. The great majority of this bike/pedestrian path is in Wakulla County.

#7. Serving on the FSU School of Theater Patron Board as well as through efforts of the Friends of Library I fully support art programs in our County and region. Unfortunately, when times are tough, we "can't have it all." We must learn to live within our means as a county just as we are expected to do in our homes. Our households make choices each week and set priorities; Pay the rent, pay the utilities, pay for food. Sometimes we have to choose not going to the movies.

Our county must set its priorities from most important to least important. We must stop choosing to pay for an excessive and bloated middle and upper management that takes money away from all aspects of our budget. When we allow putting new decals on county vehicles or the purchase of unnecessary items to take priority over funding our community center or for providing essential services, we are not using our citizens tax dollars efficiently. It is time that the County prioritize before it spends, putting the tax dollars to those most important needs. When the citizens tax dollars are used efficiently our taxes may not increase but actually decrease.

IN THIS TIME OF HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTAINT THINGS THAT SHOULD BE DONE TO IMPROVE WAKULLA COUNTY’S ECONOMY?
Our economy is not an isolated happening. It is part of a global recession. We have to learn the lesson of not putting so many of our economic eggs is one basket. Residential construction provided a large portion of our workforce during the boom years. That became part of the boom and bust cycle. I, along with many others, have been promoting other job areas to diversify our economy. The eco-tourism and the Wakulla Environmental Institute are two examples of how we can diversify by taking advantage of one of our biggest assets, our natural resources. I have worked for and supported this new Institute that will be built on land donated to TCC by the Expo Center Board. A full campus will be built dealing with all aspects of the environment - from product development to research and training. It will bring many new jobs and opportunities for our citizens to live and work in our County.

We have to continue to improve our infrastructure. Our roads continually need improvement, our schools need to keep their high level of performance and our natural resources need to be protected. These are all vital for a successful economy.

WAKULLA COUNTY HAS EXPERIENCED PHENOMENAL GROWTH IN THE LAST DECADE. HOW DO YOU BALANCE THE DEMANDS OF A GROWING INFRASTRUCTURE WITH WAKULLA'S NATURAL RESOURCES?


The word balance may not be the best word to use. Growth and protection of our natural resources in Wakulla County do not have to be mutually exclusive. How can we keep and protect our environment and not allow our environment to be additionally degraded, while at the same time allowing for growth? That is what good planning is all about. We need to have a planning process. We need to have a plan that spells out our where and how development can occur in a way that protects our environment; and then we need to have the strength to follow that plan. If we don't you will have uncontrolled growth, the environment will suffer, your water quality and quantity will suffer and once those resources are lost you lose the great economic driver that attracts people to Wakulla County. If this is allowed to happen you may see loss of population rather than growth.

Jerry Moore

PLEASE RANK THE FOLLOWING SERVICES IN ORDER OF YOUR GREATEST TO LEAST SUPPORT:
• improving storm water and flood control infrastructure
• expanding public transportation & safer pedestrian and bicycle corridors
• offering economic development incentives
• operating County Parks and Recreation programs
• supporting arts and cultural activities
• adequately staffing new and expanded libraries
• supporting services for homeless

#1 Libraries: While at Auburn University I spent 90% of my free time at the library. Librarys provide reading programs, community programs, art programs, cultural programs to all citizens.

I am very interested in developing the virtual library of the future, as with computers the library is at our laptop. I will enthusiastically endorse the combination of the physical library and the virtual library in Wakulla County.

#2 Parks & Recreation: Our youth is our best asset, they need recreation provided both by the county and private interest. In Wakulla we need a skating rink, In Wakulla we need a bowling alley, in Wakulla we need a theater, In Wakulla we need to expand our ball fields to the north part of the county. The county can lead in developing ball fields, promoting sports, hosting tournaments in Wakulla County. We need to investigate the opening of one of our springs that may have been closed to allow swimming and other related activities. No where in the state are there so many opportunities for outdoor recreation and we must be creative in our thinking going forward.

#3 Supporting Homeless: We need to continue to support our Senior Center as that is the center of support for the ageing and programs for seniors, and to help all those in need.

#4 We do need a program of Arts and Entertainment. The Sopchoppy opera should be supported as well as to bring events to the current and new county facility on Shadeville highway.

#5 We need to push harder for grants, we need to dedicate a portion of our current county road budget exclusively to provide infrastructure especially in the Wakulla Gardens area. I will not vote for those residence to pay for something that was not their fault.

#6 Economic development: I will work with the economic development department of the chamber and well as the other county commissioners to remove any and all road blocks that would keep a clean industry and/or business from coming to Wakulla County. You balance incentatives with results. Provided the county benefits and enviroment is protected I will do whatever to bring business and industry to town.

#7 Our bike trail at Ochlocknee bay has been on the drawing board of 10 years and we nearly lost the grant money. I will push that to completion as it would create jobs and not cost the county any money. Our retail and residential developments in the future need sidewalks it just brings communities togather and insures children do not have to walk in the street.

#8 First & Last Choices: All the above are important. We must reduce the cost of government going forward by attrition. We must reduce the rules and regulations the prohibit good clean business from coming to Wakulla, We must bring new business to the county as 65% of our tax revenue is being spent in Leon county. If we hadThe tax money we leave in Leon county by shopping there we would have a surplus in our budget and not a negative as now, and that is just awful. Please remember business create jobs and generate taxes and create communties. We have two enviroments in Wakulla, A business enviroment and a natural enviroment and we must have balance between the two.
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