FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Get to know your Fernandina Beach City Commission Candidates – Group 1

September 20, 2020

Editor’s Note:  The Fernandina Observer presented four written questions to candidates seeking a seat on the Fernandina Beach City Commission.  Today we present answers from Group 1.  We have turned off commenting on this post so our readers will focus on the answers and not the comments.

On Thursday, September 24, the Fernandina Observer Candidate Forum can be viewed via the City of Fernandina Beach website via live streaming beginning at 7:00 p.m.  In the future, we will provide more information on access to the forum.

Candidates Bradley Bean and Marian Phillips, Group 1.

Candidate press releases appear below.

Bradley Mason Bean Candidate Press Release

Marian Phillips Candidate Press Release

 

 

 

 

What was the deciding factor in your decision to run for office?

Bradley Bean

One night while sitting through a City Commission meeting with my grandmother, I listened as they were discussing an issue very close to my heart.  We were in danger of losing the park behind Publix.  I grew up playing sports in this park, and I could not stand for our open spaces being traded away.  As a concerned citizen, I spoke publicly at a City Commission meeting about the importance of maintaining open space to protect our small town feel.  Unfortunately, we lost the park that day but that was when I decided to run for City Commission.  Since that time, I have learned so much more about our city government and how we have the responsibility to not only protect our precious resources, but also to keep our city an affordable place to live, work and play. Fernandina Beach has seen major impacts due to Covid-19 and it is clear our citizens are struggling to make ends meet.  I am running because the city needs to do everything it can to support our hardworking families and to protect what makes Fernandina Beach great.

What was the deciding factor in your decision to run for office?

Marian Phillips

Three years ago, when HB631 was signed into law to privatize our beaches, I worked countless hours as Vice President of Public Beaches & Shores notarizing affidavits to save our customary dry sand beach use. Our beaches are some of the most beautiful on Florida, if not the world. They should be accessible by everyone because they are sovereign. It was during one of the notarizing events  I made up my mind that I would run for City Commission during the next election cycle.

Over the years, the over development in our city has also played an important factor in my decision. No longer could I sit back watching the Fernandina I grew up to love continue to be taken away. The small-town homey atmosphere is slowly but surely becoming just a memory.  As City Commissioner, I want to protect our precious treasures, the marina, tree Canopy, greenway, along with our beaches, protecting the people, and our wonderful way of life. I want to leave a positive legacy that will be forever remembered as a good and faithful servant to all of those I have served and stood up for.

What is the most important problem the next city commission must solve?

Marian Phillips

There are many issues but the one I feel is one of the most important is growth. Our island is only 12 miles in length. We have a population of approx. 13,000 and growing every day. We only have so much space on the island. We have 70 miles of streets in our city with 2 ways on and off the island. We must as a city work to slow down our growth. We must have jobs to support those who live and work here along with affordable housing.

What is the most important problem the next city commission must solve?

Bradley Bean

Finding a way to keep our budget in check, while supporting small business and hardworking families, is the problem that must be addressed before any others. In order to make ends meet, we must-like citizens in their own households- find innovative ways to find savings in the budget and not raise taxes on families who are already struggling.  I believe it is important to tighten our belt as a city during this time instead of asking our citizens to shoulder an increased burden.

The city must ensure that businesses can remain open during this time of major uncertainty.  I believe the best action the city can take is to get out of the way of successful small businesses to allow them to remain strong.  The most important thing the city needs to remember when implementing safety plans is to keep them concise and clear so businesses can plan appropriately.

How have you prepared yourself to be an effective city commissioner?

Bradley Bean

Throughout my life, whether in work, school or in the community, I have sought to work for the betterment of those around me. It is important to work well with others and listen to their concerns. In addition, in order to be an effective commissioner, it is important to thoroughly understand the unique issues that affect our community.  Since returning home from the University of Florida with my engineering degree, I have devoted numerous hours to learning about these issues and strengthening the community.  Over the last few years I have:

  • Become president – elect of our local Rotary Club
  • Served on a Fernandina Beach city committee (Charter Review Committee)
  • Served on a Chamber of Commerce committee (Government Affairs)
  • Coached the high school robotics team
  • Become a homeowner

I’ve already started working for our community and I’m ready to start working for you.  By understanding the issues and working together, we can continue to put Fernandina first.

How have you prepared yourself to be an effective city commissioner?

Marian Phillips

In 2010, NEA (National Education Association) awarded me the opportunity to take a 98-hour training on leadership with the Leaders for Tomorrow Program. Over the span of a year, I traveled to different parts of the country participating with 19 other Education Support Professionals in classes on every aspect of leadership. Since then, I have taken on leadership roles as President of my local union, Vice President of the FL AFL-CIO, Vice President of Citizens of Public Beaches & Shores, to name a few of the many leadership roles I’ve acquired. Also, I have volunteered in the community with food banks, sewing over 800 masks for our community when COVID hit in March. I’ve attended many City Commission meetings, CRA, Marina Advisory, Historic Council, and Planning Advisory Board meetings. At every meeting I leave learning something new. In order to lead, you must be a servant first. I’m also a people person. I never meet a stranger. Memorization of people’s names is very important. This is something I learned years ago when working for K-Mart here on the island. You also must have good customer service skills. It’s not about me, but we. It is my belief that the experience I’ve obtained over the years makes me the best qualified to be the next City Commissioner Group 1.

If you believe that there is too much development in the city, how would you propose to stop it legally without interfering with private property rights?

Marian Phillips

Place a moratorium on high density development, exempting those already applied for, while the City Commission works together to reduce density, rather than keep increasing density. Continue to purchase conservation land to preserve our old growth trees and forests. These areas may be used for low impact nature trails for residents to enjoy.

If you believe that there is too much development in the city, how would you propose to stop it legally without interfering with private property rights?

Bradley Bean

Our natural resources and our environment benefit our community immensely.  They bring tourism to our island, and they are in part what brought me – a young professional – back home to work after obtaining my degree.  Because we know that our quality of life is dependent on our small-town feel we need smart community planning that brings together all stakeholders.  This does not change the need to always defend private property rights and allow our local businesses to prosper.  In a time of growth, citizens are concerned about changes to zoning or variances that allow projects to change the character of our home. We must ensure that our tree ordinance and comprehensive plan reflect the value we place on our natural resources and safety, while allowing property owners the right to build or develop their land.  Consistency in approach will allow all sides a path to peaceful resolution. The city needs a champion of smart growth who will fight for a balance between the inevitable growth and keeping what makes Fernandina Beach so great.  I promise to be that champion.

 

 

Share this story!