My name is Miriam Hill and I am running for Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) District 1. As the interim attorney for OPHA in 2018-2019, I saw the need for drastic improvement. Transparency, fiduciary responsibility and long-term planning are essential for our County’s future. The OHPA can and should be a net contributor to the County and to our community, and it can do so without costing the citizens of Nassau County $1 in taxes. If elected, I commit to:
1. Make OHPA Port meetings transparent and open to the public, available as readily as county meetings,
2. Reduce costly legal disputes,
3. Stop financial waste, and
4. Deliver on OHPA’s economic promises to all of Nassau County.
As a local attorney experienced in financial and government law, my actions speak louder than my words. I have advised small business owners and local governments and have earned a reputation for being fair, honest and accountable. I have volunteered thousands of hours to nonprofits such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nassau County, the Nassau Bar (attorneys’) Association, the Veteran’s Court, The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast, and Take Stock in Children.
In 2010, my husband Chris and I moved back to his childhood home in Fernandina Beach. Together we are raising our three-year-old daughter here – the third generation of the Hill family in Fernandina Beach. As the daughter of a German immigrant, I was taught the value of hard work. At age 11, my first job in our family’s restaurant instilled in me the strong work ethic I live by today. From becoming the first in my family to earn a master’s degree (MBA Finance UNF 2007) and then a law degree (Florida State University 2010, cum laude), I am always eager to take on new challenges and see things through to success.
Prior to accepting the position of interim attorney for OHPA, I studied the Charter and pored over past board meeting minutes. I interviewed previous attorneys for OHPA, spoke with dozens of local community leaders, talked with past port employees, and met with the Port Director as well as past and present Commissioners.
In my brief time as its attorney, I advised the OHPA board on compliance with its charter and helped to secure FDOT grant funding for a $425,000 port lighting project. I helped coordinate a Sunshine law and ethics training session for the Commissioners in collaboration with the City of Fernandina Beach. However, since my time at OHPA, diplomacy with the City of Fernandina Beach has fallen apart, costly legal disputes seem to be multiplying daily, the Port Operator continues to report declining financial results, the US Customs and Border Patrol (GSA) has ended its lease agreement with the Port, and the OHPA board is representing to the world that it is at risk of being unable to meet its obligations.
This is far from the lofty goals for which the Ocean Highway and Port Authority was originally conceived. Since its founding in 1941, OHPA has been intended to be the primary economic development and infrastructure financing tool for Nassau County, to the benefit of the Citizens of Nassau County and the State of Florida. In addition to the Port of Fernandina, OHPA has built portions of the highway connecting the Port of Fernandina to JAXPort, financed bridges, and built the Fernandina Marina. All of this infrastructure came about without a single tax dollar being paid by the Citizens of Nassau County. OHPA is clearly not living up to its potential.
If elected, I will make good on the commitments of my campaign. I am asking for your support and your vote. Thank you and I look forward to speaking with you soon!
Editor’s Note: Miriam Hill faces Todd Ericksen and Incumbent Robert Sturgess for a seat on the Ocean Highway Port Authority, District 1. The race will be decided in the August 18 election. All registered votes, regardless of political affilation will be able to participate.