By Marian Phillips
Fernandina Beach City Commission
September 8, 2020
My name is Marian Phillips and I have been a resident of the City of Fernandina Beach since moving here with my family at the age of 9.
I am the proud graduate of Fernandina Beach High School, Class of 1979. The proud daughter of the Korean War Veteran, and commercial shrimper. My mother – Janie Thomas along with Lowell Hall and former State Representative George Crady helped save the Nassau Sound bridge.
My son, Wyatt Fenton Lee is the jewel of my life. “Wyatt” means little warrior and “Fenton” means dweller of the marsh. He is the great nephew of Joseph Smiley Lee, former Mayor and City Commissioner who is one of the reasons we have the Greenway.
I’m very lucky to share my life and love for this amazing community, coming from a very long line of strong and dedicated members of this community.
I’ve worked for the Nassau County School Board since 2001 where I am the Supervisor’s Secretary of Attendance along with liaison for Juvenile Court 4th Judicial Circuit.
A very large part of my passion is driven through my union leadership. My Union experience has taken me to many states around the country, meeting many people along the way. Working and learning my way up from a member, all the way to president of one of the strongest of the smallest educational staff professional unions in the state. As a leader, working with fellow members, we’ve worked hard to take a union in shambles building it to 58% in membership. I believe Leaders lead by bringing others up with them.
I’m Vice President of the FL AFL-CIO, Fifth Vice President of The North Florida Central Labor Council, member of Citizens for the Restoration of the Fernandina Harbor Marina as well as Fernandina Beach Citizens Against Paid Beach Parking. I’m also a member of the Fernandina Pirates Club, and Fernandina Chapter Order of Eastern Star.
My goal as City Commissioner is to protect our cities treasures. The marina, trees, beaches, and small-town atmosphere. Development is rampant on our island paradise. The destruction of our maritime forest has caused damage that can never be repaired. Our natural beauty that everyone comes here for is slowly being taken away. As city commissioner, I want to slow the development down by placing restrictions on how large or high buildings are or how close they are to easements. Place high penalties if trees ordinances are not adhered too with hefty fines. Our maritime forests are what protects the sand dune we live on. The deep roots hold us together when hurricanes hit, while the strong branches protect us from the high winds in the storms. The habitats of endangered species such as birds, turtles, and our people are in danger.
Our Marina is a working waterfront. It should remain as such. The destruction by two hurricanes, has created loss revenue for our city. The issue of recouping funds from FEMA has caused a hardship for the city. Repairs are almost completed. Now, we need to see that the marina is restored to an even better state than it was before the hurricanes. The marina can be profitable if managed correctly. My vision is to bring Shrimp Boats back to the docks, have a wharf type walkway along the waterfront. Fresh seafood from our local waters can be brought to the docks for purchase. Children can take field trips and learn about the modern shrimping industry and net making. Maybe small seafood restaurants can also be accessible along the waterfront. Boaters can launch their boats. Charter boats can resume taking visitors out for fishing trips and sunset tours. We are the birthplace of the modern shrimping industry. How can we say this if we don’t have shrimp boats?
Our beaches are some of the most beautiful in the world. Our beaches are sovereign land, meaning they belong to everyone. Access to our beaches should remain free to all who want to access them. I am against paid parking. In the 80’s, if you wanted to drive on the beach, you purchased a yearly sticker for $25 or daily sticker for $5 for your vehicle. I’m not sure what ever happened to these. For some reason this rule has been overlooked. Most people would not have an issue with this. I will never support parking meters to access our beaches. The hotel that has been erected at Main Beach should never have been allowed. This could have been parking for those who want to access the beach. Beach parking spaces are being used by those who dine at Salt Life. This was not properly thought out either. Our beaches are always going to be here. People come here for because they love our beaches and waterways. We must protect our rights to access our beaches.
Throughout the years, I have been very busy preparing myself by learning to be the best part of the City of Fernandina Beach Commission. When you cast your vote on November 3rd, I hope you will place your confidence and trust knowing that I will protect our cities treasures so that generations to come can enjoy what we enjoy – the diamond we call home, Fernandina Beach.
Editor’s Note: Marian Phillips will face Bradley Bean for a seat on the Fernandina Beach City Commission, Group 1. The election will take place on November 3, 2020.