Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peyton Guides His Campaign on a Theme of No Tax Increases; He Says Spending Is 'About Priorities'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Peyton Guides His Campaign on a Theme of No Tax Increases; He Says Spending Is 'About Priorities'

Article excerpt

Byline: David DeCamp, Times-Union staff writer

Training his message repeatedly against tax hikes, John Peyton stood up for his platform and touted his business record over opponent Nat Glover's during an array of questions last week from the Times-Union.

Peyton, a Republican, camped on his keystone phrase, "no tax increases -- period," even if it means cuts in programs. During a 90-minute session, he defended his mayoral campaign's adherence to themes and ideology over specifics on where more money could be spent or reduced.

"It's about priorities. It's about making a tough decision and some things are probably going to have to go," Peyton said. "I think a business background, by the way, is better than a lifelong government background [of Glover's]."

Peyton also acknowledged his proposals have left a schism between him and some minority leaders, leaving him one of his biggest challenges if elected. He already took flak in 2001 for voting to hire Derek Morse, who is white, over Michael Blaylock, who is black. Blaylock eventually took over as the Jacksonville Transportation Authority chief when Morse left.

As a candidate, he promises to replace the city's first black fire chief, something he says is simply following precedent of other mayors.

Peyton wants to do away with race-based goals for city contracting -- the Minority Business Enterprise program -- in favor of a program helping small businesses. He also wants to allow incentives to be used to help businesses locate on the Southside, lifting a ban. Downtrodden Southside areas, he says, are just as deserving as northwest parts of the city.

Peyton said the city can do a better job addressing the contracting goals of the current policy.

"I don't think there should be quotas or set-asides or sheltered markets," said Peyton. "I don't think they're legal. I don't think they're fair."

During various questions, Peyton held tight to resisting tax cuts -- and suggested, if not explicitly, opposition to fee hikes, too.

"No tax increases -- period -- is the answer. I'm not looking to increase fees or licenses, whatever. …

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