Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Candidates Discuss Hot Topic District Seat Candidates in St. Johns Debate County Sales Tax Issue

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

GOP Candidates Discuss Hot Topic District Seat Candidates in St. Johns Debate County Sales Tax Issue

Article excerpt

With one election down and two to go, St. Johns County

Republican candidates for District 2 and District 4 county

commission seats faced off at a meeting of the Republican Club

of Ponte Vedra Thursday and were questioned about an issue that

will share the Nov. 1 ballot with whoever wins the October

run-off.

A referendum to levy an additional one-half (0.5) percent

county sales surtax for five years to acquire land for

recreation and preservation has become an important issue in the

campaign.

The Sept. 1 primary narrowed the field from four Republican

candidates for each seat to two, because no one candidate won a

clear majority. An Oct. 1 election will decide which candidate

will be on the ballot in November. Candidates must campaign

countywide, because the county has returned to an at-large

system to elect commissioners, instead of the former system of

electing one per district plus two at-large.

District 2 candidates represent the southwest part of the

county including the town of Hastings. Chairman Moses Floyd, the

incumbent from that district, was eliminated from the contest in

the primary. Now in the run-off, former St. Augustine

Commissioner John Reardon faces contractor Ron Sanchez. The

winner will face Cathy Brown at the polls in November.

In District 4, which covers Ponte Vedra Beach and Palm Valley,

political activist Mary Kohnke opposes at-large Commissioner

David Bruner. At-large Commissioner Karen Taylor, Democrat, will

then run against the winner.

With accelerated growth and development in the county, land for

parks and recreation and water conservation is a scarce

commodity. A proposal to increase the county sales tax from 0.6

percent to 0.65 to purchase and preserve land has stirred some

controversy among voters and candidates.

Two large tracts on the ocean in St. Augustine, the Fleeman

tract and a campground, are prime targets for acquisition and

will cost about $17. …

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