Q: Since last month’s article, the Board of County Commissioners has hired Hunter Conrad permanently as county administrator. Can you comment on this?
A: Hunter Conrad initially was not interested in this job on a permanent basis when we selected him as the interim county administrator, but then he became interested after doing the job for a short time. He brings good credentials and in a short time has done a great job of managing staff and bringing a new energy to the position. The board made the decision to offer him the job once he expressed interest — before going through the time and expense of a potentially nationwide search. My responsibility is to residents of St. Johns County and it seemed wise to consider Hunter since he was already doing a good job. At the end of the day, we as a board need to work with him and we are comfortable with this decision.
Q: It’s almost time to start the budget process again. Can you share some of your priorities?
A: One thing I want to continue to focus on is public safety, to include law enforcement and firefighters. Also I want to continue to look at funding sidewalks and recreational spaces, again with an emphasis on safety. I think we need to continue to keep our property taxes low. We’ve been successful at this, but improvements can always be made. I’d like to see the board look at ways to save our taxpayers money and possibly rely more on the tourists who come here to take on some more of the burden. I’d like to see us partner with the City of St. Augustine to address homelessness. We could create a working committee to examine this problem and come up with a collaborative effort to combat it. Finally, I’d like to continue working on our natural resources, including our beaches. Tourism and our beaches combine for a lot of economic impact, so they are important. We need to continue to be proactive in looking for funding sources for our natural resources.
Q: Speaking of economic impact, what would you like to say about THE PLAYERS, which is the big event in March?
A: We are excited for this wonderful event and it should be a great family atmosphere. We appreciate the partnership the county has with the PGA TOUR. A University of Florida study from a couple of years ago stated that the economic impact of THE PLAYERS was equivalent to having a Super Bowl here every year.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 4?
A: The 2020 Census date is April 1. The Census is important because it helps determine the amount of federal government funding we get. It is the civic duty of every American to fill out the Census accurately. This helps us in St. Johns County make sure we have the numbers to justify our requests when we are asking for state and federal funding for items like infrastructure.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at email@example.com or call me at (904) 679-2620.