I’ve thought a lot about whether or not to share who I voted for with my friends on social media. Anyone who knows me knows that — while I definitely have opinions — I don’t widely share my political picks. This mostly stems from my background in journalism. And while many people likely make assumptions based on one or two things I’m very vocal about (e.g. marriage equality), those assumptions might actually be wrong. As I always say, everything in moderation.
As I mentioned, much of my reluctance to publicly support a candidate comes from a professional perspective, particularly my past in journalism. But perhaps more than that now, I truly want people to learn about the candidates and decide for themselves. By providing a list of who I vote for, I’ve thought it might make it too easy for people to just blindly vote. And I want people to be educated. Conversely, there are going to be people who want to vote but don’t care to do the research. And there are always going to be other people on sides opposite of mine who are pushing out a list of candidates they like and say to vote for. So if I’m not making my suggestions known and others are, perhaps people will just go with what’s easiest and vote based on others’ suggestions. With this in mind, I’ve decided to tell you who I’m supporting as Jacksonville’s next mayor.
Jacksonville is thriving, but there’s much more work that needs to be done. Some important topics to me are:
- Adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the city’s Human Rights Ordinance
- Attracting businesses to Jacksonville and encouraging tourism
- Improving transportation and infrastructure
- Improving the quality of life, in part by supporting a thriving arts and culture scene
- Balancing the city’s budget and successfully dealing with pension reform
- Capitalizing on the beauty of the St. Johns River while also making sure we don’t harm it
I’ve done considerable research into the candidates. I’ve talked with numerous people from different sides of these issues. I’ve kept an open mind. I’m also pretty good at cutting through the canned lines that don’t actually answer questions or provide any content regarding a candidate’s position, but rather divert attention to something else or try to make us all feel better about ourselves.
To be clear, this is my opinion and is in no way a statement of support from anyone or anything I’m connected to either professionally or personally. As far as the mayoral race is concerned, I’ve chosen to vote for former City Council President Bill Bishop. Time and time again, he’s had answers about the above topics that I agree with and that seem like more than just a politician’s line to get elected. A perfect example from last night: All candidates involved in the debate were asked about adding sexual orientation to the city’s HRO. Mayor Brown and Lenny Curry never actually answered the question. Both said they were against discrimination. Lenny Curry added that the people of Jacksonville do not discriminate. Bishop actually answered the question — YES, he would support it. I find I have a greater respect for candidates, even if I disagree with them, if they at least answer the question and don’t dodge it. It’s refreshing to hear a candidate actually answer a question and it’s a win-win if I agree with the answer.
I think Bishop has the experience, the ideas and the right attitude to help move Jacksonville forward. It takes a village to move a city forward — not just a good mayor. So it’s important for a mayoral candidate to be willing to bring in ideas from everywhere. It’s important for everyone in the city to do their part to help turn lofty ideas into tangible progress. And if there’s a candidate that I not only agree with on the important things, but who also inspires me, I’ll take it. For me, that’s Bill Bishop.
I’m not going to encourage you all to vote for him. I want you to take the time to investigate all of the candidates on your ballots yourselves. Don’t know who will be on your ballot? The Supervisor of Elections office makes it pretty easy to see your sample ballot. You can even print it out, fill it out and take it with you as a guide at the voting booth. The Florida Times-Union (which has endorsed Bill Bishop) also has plenty of information about the candidates on its website. And of course, the Jax Young Voters Coalition is my favorite resource for City Council candidate Q&As on issues we think are important in Jacksonville. You can early vote now through March 22nd.
And after you vote, hold on to your sticker and come out to the Jax Young Voters Coalition’s next big event: Ballots, Brews & Bands: Early Voter Edition. There’s potential for free beer! It’s going to be awesome.
So educate yourself. Go vote. Do your city a favor and help us change it for the better.