Commentary: It’s Now or Never to Keep Our City Liveable

By Mike Lednovich

The deadline is just six weeks away for candidacy in the Fernandina Beach city commission and a concerning silence persists.

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with the current leadership of Mayor Bradley Bean and Vice Mayor David Sturges, no contenders have emerged to challenge the pro-development, good-old-boy network incumbents. This absence of candidates is not just disappointing; it’s dangerous for the future of Fernandina Beach.

The current city commission’s track record is marred with decisions that prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability and community well-being. Bean and Sturges have consistently sided with developers and special interests while neglecting the concerns and needs of the residents they were elected to represent.

Their voting record speaks volumes. Time and again, they have greenlit projects that prioritize developer profit margins over environmental preservation. They have ruined established neighborhoods and ignored the greater public interest. From reckless efforts to increase residential density to questionable zoning and annexation decisions, their tenure has been marked by a disregard for protecting the very fabric of our community.

Yet, despite vocal outrage and mounting discontent, the Bean/Sturges status quo remains unchallenged. The absence of any opposition candidates speaks volumes about the entrenched power dynamics at play in Fernandina Beach. It’s a stark reminder of the pervasive influence of the good old boy network, where insiders protect their interests at the expense of a long term vision for historic Fernandina and a lack of accountability.

Have people forgotten that Bean leveraged his father’s – U.S. Congressman Aaron Bean – extensive campaign fundraising network in 2020 with a $30,000 effort for a small town commissioner seat? Over half that money – $16,000 – came from political committees based in Tallahassee and outside of Nassau County.

Sturges is plugged into the same local Republican Party (the local GOP contributed $1,100 to his 2020 campaign) network as Bean. Their efforts shaped the winning campaigns of Darron Ayscue and James Antun for city commission seats when the GOP stepped in – including factions from outside Nassau County – to turn the election into a culture war instead of on local issues. A non-partisan race was turned on its head by the GOP. And folks, it will happen again in this election.

Sitting on the sidelines is now not an option. Citizens cannot afford to sit idly by while our city’s future hangs in the balance. Now, more than ever, we need bold, principled leadership that prioritizes the needs of the many over the favors and profits of the few. Fernandina Beach is blessed with a multitude of qualified people. But where are they in our greatest time of need?

Do you really want four more years of Bean and Sturges on the city commission?

The upcoming August city commission election presents an opportunity for change. It’s a chance for the residents of Fernandina Beach to reclaim their voice and shape the future of their community. We need candidates who are not beholden to special interests, who will listen to the concerns of the people, and who will fight tirelessly for a more equitable and sustainable future.

To those who have hesitated to step forward, now is the time to act. Your community needs you. Your voice matters. You are the candidates that can build a Fernandina Beach that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

Ask yourself if you’re willing to sit on the bench as Bean and Sturges get re-elected for another four years. Once seated, they will start enacting their efforts to change the Land Development Code that will turn 1,000 residential parcels into space for 3,000 more homes. They will not fight to defend the city’s regulations which bans RYAM’s effort to produce 7.5 million gallons of bioethanol less than a mile away from city hall.

As the deadline to qualify approaches, let us not succumb to apathy or resignation. Let us stand up, speak out, and demand better for our city. The time for change is now, and it begins with candidates who will fight to preserve our quality of life in the city we cherish.

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Active Member
1 month ago

For someone not running because they don’t want to be subjected to personal attacks you sure to make a lot of personal

Noble Member
1 month ago

Sounds like a lot of sour grapes to me.

Trusted Member
1 month ago

I think you, Genece Minshew and Tim Poynter should run as a slate. One person makes no difference. Three could control the commission. You have the knowledge and name recognition, and a team effort would be valuable in both fund raising and campaigning.

Mark Tomes
Trusted Member
Mark Tomes(@mtomes)
1 month ago

Mike, you are spot on. It is time to turn from the closed doors and “development-at-any-cost” mindset of the current commission majority to a commission that looks at the big picture, a sustainable future, and a vibrant community.

Noble Member
1 month ago

wow that is some old-fashioned mudslinging!

Noble Member
1 month ago

it is too bad that no one is running against Bradley Bean, not for any of the junk Mike writes but Bradley is the worst example of a slick professional politician I have ever seen. He is always looking to get on social media and be popular. but if you try to get him to get involved in city government or help a constituent – he disappears.

Ben Martin
Noble Member
Ben Martin(@ben-martin)
1 month ago
Reply to  dman

“The law is often used to enrich one group of citizens over another.” – Bastiat

At the state and Federal level government is a collection of special interests. In general it seems politicians cater to those that fund their campaign. In some cases it is also reasonable to suspect politicians are blackmailed. If you were to do a spot check of who funds members of the Florida House you would find that about every one of them has contributions from Big Banking and/or Big Pharma.

This is why and how school kids are forced into damaging psyche meds through government programs. Foster kids are especially targeted.

This is why vaccine manufacturers are exempt from liability.

If you have a compliant against a bank, chances are you will not get congressman Bean (Bradley’s father) to listen. You probably won’t be able to get him on the phone.

I will pay $25,000 to anyone who can show that I am incorrect about receiving a Fraudulent Account Statement. That offer is extended to the US congress, the Florida House, and everyone else.

It seems private central bankers have have a grip on governments – all over the world.