Q: Do you have an ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds update for District 2?
A: We are moving forward with the county’s allocation of ARPA funds and had two big wins for District 2. First, we allocated $5 million towards funding the construction of a much needed medical clinic in West Augustine. This is a historically impoverished area and this need has existed for some time. The medical clinic will be in partnership with Flagler Health+ and the Y.
Secondly, we allocated $7 million towards bringing the southwest campus of First Coast Technical College (FCTC), a vocational school, to Hastings. We are early in the process, but the hope is to renovate and restore the historic Hastings High School for this purpose rather than build new. I think it’s important to preserve this history if possible.
Q: Can you give an update on the budget process [as of interview date of May 16] and what you hope to glean as a new commissioner?
A: The St. Johns County Fiscal Year 2023 Administrator’s Budget Workshop will be held May 23 – 25. I expect to have an intensive learning curve and I’m excited to soak it all in. Of particular interest to me is the growth we’re experiencing in our county — and how do we keep up with it? Especially in the area of public safety to include our first responders. They need all of the resources to do their job effectively and they need to be compensated fairly. Public safety also includes our roadways and infrastructure.
For instance, consider the stretch of County Road 210 between Cimarrone and Greenbriar. It seems there is an accident there every day and I think it’s one of the most dangerous roadways in the county. I’m working hard to get it fixed. The bid to widen it just came in higher and taking longer to complete than we had originally planned, but I’m working with staff to see if we can expedite it in any way.
Q: As a county commissioner, what would you say are your three budget priorities?
A: I think we’ve already talked about two of them that concern public safety: first responders and infrastructure. I would next include parks and recreation. Our kids don’t have enough field space. We need to add more park space.
Q: Do you have anything else to share with District 2?
A: With the warmer weather of summer upon us, many residents will be out enjoying our beautiful beaches and waterways. I’d like to encourage parents to be very careful with their children in these settings, as we know that our emergency calls spike during the summer months.
Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you?
A: Readers can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (904) 325-4182.