Making campaign promises is easy. Delivering on them is considerably harder. My voting record reflects the promises I have kept. Over the past 2½ years I have passionately supported the preservation and conservation of open spaces, beaches, the dune systems, tree canopies and wetlands which defines the character of our island and our quality of life. With the assistance of my fellow commissioners, I initiated the Land Conservation ordinance and the program which allowed the City to purchase and preserve environmentally sensitive land and expand the Greenway.
Since the last election, the City Commission has voted more than 700 times. I voted with the majority 98% of the time, with 92% of the votes being unanimous. However, I did not always agree with my fellow Commissioners on “key” land development issues. I opposed the approval of the Amelia Bluff subdivision on land that was designated as Conservation Land. I opposed turning the Open Space of Amelia Park into another housing development and opposed the zoning changes that allowed several downtown parcels to build more townhouses. I opposed the construction of the Simmons Road Park because the construction would degrade environmentally sensitive land. To protect the dunes from errant foot traffic, I opposed the building of new dune/beach walkovers that did not have ramps. I fully supported the ordinance which enforces and now maintains the 35-foot building height limit on residential oceanfront properties. My conservation and preservation promises have been kept verified by my voting record.
Putting the wellbeing of Fernandina’s citizens above all outside special interests has also remained, and will continue to be, a top priority. I opposed a coal transfer station and the storage and transport of environmentally hazardous materials at the Port of Fernandina. I have attended every regularly scheduled Port of Fernandina meeting for the last three years to represent the City’s interests. Prior to my election, as a private citizen, I opposed a prior commission’s zoning changes that allowed the construction of the hotel on Atlantic Avenue. With the support of fellow commissioners, I focused on the City’s flood ordinances which protect vulnerable property and help reduce citizens’ flood insurance premiums. As a strong champion of Main Street and the Historic District, I continually attempt to preserve the charm of our City’s historic downtown.
In the last election, the revitalization of the marina and the waterfront were voter mandates. Despite permitting and contracting obstacles, the marina has almost been completely repaired. The downtown’s marina-dependent businesses have returned, and foot traffic to assist downtown businesses has resumed.
Staying in contact with the citizenry remains important to me. I either call or provide a written response to every e-mail that I receive from constituents. I attempt to attend every citizen advisory board meeting to get a first-hand knowledge of the workings of the City. Even my critics acknowledge my commitment. In a recent blog, one of my most ardent critics stated, “Chipping In for Chip: I have to give Fernandina Beach City Commissioner Dr. Chip Ross credit for taking time to thoroughly research city issues. In addition to doing an exhaustive job digging into each topic that comes before the Commission, he has also been reaching out to members of the community for their feedback, whether supporters of his or not. If he thinks you’re all wet, he won’t hesitate to bluntly explain why he thinks so while at the same time thanking you for your opinion. I know from experience.”
As a physician in an Emergency Department, I continue to be acutely aware of the daily health and social issues that confront our citizens from all walks of life. My work also provides an opportunity to work with our City’s first responders and law enforcement officers who face daunting, continual, everchanging challenges as they attempt to keep our City safe. I continue to support an excellent EMS, police, and fire department.
The current City Commission and the next commission must navigate ways to preserve and protect our quality of life while recovering from the economic collapse caused by the pandemic. With a limited budget, the City must find a viable plan to deliver the services and amenities that continue to make Fernandina Beach such a desirable place to live. Building a sustainable future compatible with the carrying capacity of Amelia Island will remain a critical issue for all islanders.
If reelected, with an open mind, a collaborative spirit for those things that are in the best interest of Fernandina Beach, and thousands of hours of work and research, I will remain committed to finding that path forward.
I hope you consider voting for me in November.
Editor’s Note: Incumbent Chip Ross will face Ricky Robbins Jr. and Wendall McGahee for a seat on the Fernandina Beach City Commission Group 3. The election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
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