PYP forum – Esc. Co. Commission races

July 25, 2006

pyp 1Pensacola Young Professionals held an informative political forum at PJC last night. Counted over 90 people in attendance. There were 18 candidates there. WUWF filmed the event so you can watch it for yourself on Cox Cable.


I was there for the Esc. County Commission and Pensacola City Council Dist. 2 candidates.


District 2 – Edwin Roberts, Gene Valentino

This will be a universal primary so all voters – Dems, Inds and Reps – can vote.


Roberts stressed his deep family roots in the area, community involvement and his experience on the Fish & Wildlife Commission. Valentino said he was a solution person; that he has working 5 years on an economic development plan; and he would use 15 precinct leaders in his districts to fix what he called “communication disconnect.”


Main concern:

Valentino – communication

Roberts – communication, too; Hurricane Ivan clean-up – why are we behind Baldwin Co.? Rollback millage (property tax rate)


How to improve average wage:

Roberts: Better training, cleaner environment, promote entrepreneurship, have progressive, efficient government.

Valentino: Five point plan 1)Economic Development Commission 2)Don’t turn back on military 3)Partner with ECUA to move Main St. Plant 4) Arts & Entertainment Commission 5) Focus on transportation.


District 4 – Tom Banjanin (R – incumbent), Grover Robinson IV(R), Andy Kowalski (NP)

Banjanin and Robinson face off in Sept 5 primary for right to meet Kowalski and Tom Wells (write in) in general election.


Banjanin stressed his 12 years on the commission fighting to get millage the same, for open process, equal access and that he doesn’t represent “Big Money”.

Robinson is running because he’s frustrated with county politics. He’s not a career politician. Wants to fix traffic problems, improve public safety, economic development and quality of life.

Kowalski: It’s for a change. Escambia County is at or near the bottom of every worthwhile ranking in the state. 17th from the bottom nationally. Can’t keep electing the same people. Stressed need for I-65 connector. Moving Main St. Plant is long overdue.


How to stop Losing Talent:

Robinson: We need some growth. Must generate a positive atmosphere – sell our assets: hospitals, colleges, military. Must stay on top of education.

Kowalski: Small business is the backbone. Pay deputies better. Work on affordable housing.

Banjanin: He’s concern over loss of educated young people, but county has brought in 3000 jobs. New asst. county administrator has an economic development background.


Where do you see us in 5 years:

Kowalski – would like to see us working a I-65 connector. Much improved downtown area. Improved tourism.

Banjanin – Change – International Paper is selling off land – we could become like Bay Co. * St. Joe Company. Hurricanes are the unknown threat. Need to build up hurricane surplus.

Robinson – Sell opportunity not fear. Open the process. We need to look at increasing density to bring people back into the urban areas. Need new leadership.


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