Submitted by Aaron Bell
June 18, 2018 11:00 a.m.
Aaron Bell, businessman and community volunteer, announces he has qualified to run for County Commissioner, District 2. As former President and Chief Executive Officer of Science First, a manufacturing concern in Yulee, he has wide experience in the business community. Now retired due to sale of the family business to outside investors, he feels he has the time to devote to helping improve the county where he has lived since 2009. “I want to invest in the future so we don’t lose what we already have,” he says, “while helping cope with the change that the future will bring.”
Bell said his platform has three major objectives:
– Planning for future growth and making sure that the costs of that growth are not borne by current taxpayers.
– A comprehensive approach to emergency services. We must ensure that we have the appropriate resources to perform the number one job of government – protecting the citizenry.
– Being accessible and customer-service oriented. A County Commissioner must be plugged into their constituents to ensure that concerns are heard and promptly addressed.
Bell is very concerned about the challenges of the future. He feels the county is at a tipping point. 40,000 people are expected to move into Nassau County in the next 10 years. “That’s 40,000 more than the 80,000 we have now,” he points out. “Our infrastructure is already struggling. The current work on SR200/A1A is an example of that. I don’t want us to become a bedroom community of Jacksonville with no identity of its own.”
That’s why Bell feels the County needs a commissioner who is able to make the county growth his priority. “I would be a full time County Commissioner,” Bell stresses. It is a big job, he feels, because the county is so varied. For instance, on the West Side, the 154 miles of dirt roads are a challenge. “The county spends $2.5 million grading those dirt roads,” says Bell. “I’d like to look into using chip seal, which requires very little maintenance and can be done at a fraction of the cost of asphalt paving. I’d like to make sure we preserve the rural character of Callahan and Hilliard. I also want to focus on Yulee. Yulee needs city services – they have no community pool and inadequate ballfields. Also – there is no Parks and Recreation department.”
Bell is also very concerned about the effects that this future development will have on emergency services. “Did you know that a mere two house fires at the same time requires basically all the resources of our fire/rescue department? Should a medical call come in during this time it would be handled out of Jacksonville. In this same vein, nine patrol deputies are on duty over all 652 square miles of Nassau County.” Bell points out that Nassau County currently has 80,000 inhabitants over a large, still-rural area but that 40,000 more are expected to come in the next ten years. “Our infrastructure is already struggling,” he points out. “In the case of our resource-limited and understaffed emergency services, people’s lives may very well be at stake.”
Involved in the multimillion dollar family business since 2000, Bell has a long history handling multimillion dollar payrolls. His work as Chief Financial Officer and Acquisition Manager honed his skills in budgeting and finance. His involvement in business has taught him the value of customer service, which he equates to citizen’s concerns. This has prepared him to focus on the big picture issues that Nassau County is currently facing while remaining accessible and accountable to the citizens.
Bell feels he has the education and volunteer experience to help him perform well. He has an MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Salem International University in Salem, WV. He is on the Executive Committee for Nassau County Economic Development Board since 2011 and was elected Chairman in 2011-2012. He was appointed by Rick Scott, Governor, to the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Council from 2013 to 2014, was on the board of the Nassau County Chamber of Commerce from 2010-2016, and, since 2016, has served on the board of the Amelia Island Montessori School (serving as Treasurer in 2017-2017 and Chairman from 2017-2018). A graduate of Leadership Nassau, Class 11, he also served on the Lanceford Creek Plantation Association from 2010-2014 (where he was President from 2012-2014).
He lives on First Coast Highway with his wife Sarah, a former Yulee High School chemistry teacher and active community volunteer. His two children (Matthew, 9 and Audrey, 3) are attending school at Emma Love Hardee Elementary School and Amelia Island Montessori School.
“I believe in fiscal responsibility, team work, and making sure growth pays for itself as much as possible. This means fees should be shouldered by developers instead of relying on citizens by increasing taxes. I also think future development should be planned and not done on a piecemeal basis. I plan to consult with the residents in a given area about what they want and need in order to develop policies tailored to fit the demands of the people that live there.”
But most of all, as a father of a young family, Bell is committed to making Nassau County the best it can be.
If you would like to learn more about Aaron or get involved in his campaign, please call him at (904) 624-0133 or email him at [email protected]