Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ricks, Gause Face Same Issues, Offer Different Solutions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ricks, Gause Face Same Issues, Offer Different Solutions

Article excerpt

Byline: BETH REESE CRAVEY

Debbie Ricks and Bill Gause want a lot of the same things: redevelopment, a healthy economy, business-friendly government, safe neighborhoods - and Seat 5 on the Green Cove Springs City Council.

But Ricks, the incumbent, and Gause, the challenger on the city's Tuesday ballot, diverge on their approaches.

Ricks, who was elected to the council in 2004 and named mayor by fellow council members last year, wants to maintain ongoing city efforts to seek new business and development, and lower crime. Redevelopment is underway, such as city plans for the Augusta Savage Square Community Center in the struggling Martin Luther King Boulevard corridor, new downtown businesses and a major residential and commercial project on the city's south end. Also, the city and police department have launched a new interactive program with neighborhood groups.

"We have got projects going, things happening," she said. "I want to see what we've already started come to fruition."

But Gause said Ricks and other current council members have not done enough. The lack of proactive leadership leads to, among other things, a "stagnant" economy and a row of still-vacant automobile dealership lots along U.S. 17, he said.

"The city has not done anything at all to promote the redevelopment of downtown Green Cove Springs," said Gause, who wants to implement an incentive program to attract investment. "Let's see who can."

Ricks and Gause will be the only candidates on the ballot. Felecia Hampshire, the sole candidate for Seat 3, and incumbent Robert Page, the only person to file for Seat 4, automatically won their seats.

Voters will also consider a package of proposed city charter amendments.

Voting is at City Hall, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

DEBBIE RICKS

Age: 56

Family: Married, two adult children and a stepson

Education: Florida State University and master's degree in education from American University

Occupation: Assistant director in the Clay County clerk's recording department

Experience in elective office: Elected to City Council in 2004

Years in Green Cove Springs: Native

Goals for the city: Economic development, safe neighborhoods, funding for Augusta Savage Square community center

BILL GAUSE

Age: 59

Family: Married, two adult children

Education: University of Georgia, majored in aviation maintenance

Occupation: Vice president, Wheeler Investment Group in Green Cove Springs

Experience in elective or appointive office: Appointed to the city's visioning committee

Years in Green Cove Springs: Five

Goals for the city: Economic development, business incentives, streamlined planning and zoning permitting process

CHARTER AMENDMENTS

-- Increase annual City Council member salary from $3,600 to $4,800, effective Oct. …

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