Audrey Moran, Right for the Beaches | Politics

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Audrey Moran, Right for the Beaches
Audrey Moran, Right for the Beaches

Audrey Moran, Republican candidate for Mayor of Jacksonville, recently completed a candidate questionnaire for Beaches Watch, a non-profit, non-partisan citizen advocacy organization that is committed to helping residents maintain the quality of life for themselves and for future generations. 

Here is the completed questionnaire with Audrey Moran's responses.

Interlocal Agreement:  Some current Jacksonville City Councilors believe the beaches are not paying enough taxes for the services provided by Jacksonville, so the City has launched an audit of the interlocal agreements with the beaches.  In your opinion, are there changes that should be made to the interlocal agreements?  Please explain your answer. 

Without question, Jacksonville—like so many other cities and towns in our country—has been hit by the global financial crisis.   We have some serious financial challenges that must be addressed—both in the short-term and the longer-term, and our next Mayor will be tasked with working hard to improve our city’s fiscal footprint.  However, this is a job that must be done in a smart, transparent and comprehensive manner; it will require input from individuals throughout our city’s communities.  Singling out one or two parts of our city is divisive, and it will not produce a sustainable solution that will fix our financial shortfalls.

I’ve worked hard to bring people together from all parts of Jacksonville.  Our Beaches municipalities are a vibrant and defining part of the fabric of our city, and they make significant contributions to our local economy and civic life. The Interlocal Agreement reached in 1995 between the City of Jacksonville and the cities of Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach outlined a fair, sustainable way to fund city services needed in the Beaches communities.  In my view, the Interlocal Agreement in place today is the product of significant and thorough discussion and negotiation.  This is not the time to open it back up.

Redistricting:  Do you think the beaches district should be redrawn?  If so, what areas should be included in the beaches district?

Every ten years, as our country completes a new census at the beginning of a new decade, U.S. Congressional districts are reapportioned and new district boundaries are drawn to reflect changes in our country’s population. This year, the Jacksonville City Council, too, is tasked with the duty of redrawing district lines to ensure appropriate distribution of government representation for the citizens of our city. This is an important and complex process, and I believe it should be undertaken with care and input from across our city.

In reviewing district boundaries, there are many factors to consider.  This is true for our Beaches municipalities.  The cities of Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach are unique given their geographic location.  They share similar issues, priorities, challenges and concerns that come with a coastal existence.  Sharing a representative on City Council helps to ensure challenges unique to these beach communities receive appropriate attention and consideration. As City Council members undertake the reapportionment process this year, it is critical that these factors are taken into serious consideration.  It simply makes sense for all three beaches communities to be served by a single City Councilperson

Home rule:   Recently, Jacksonville infringed on the beaches municipalities’ home rule in the cases of the internet cafes and the ethics commission.  What, if anything, would you do to prevent this from happening again?

As our city government sets its legislative agenda and moves forward with consideration of specific proposals and initiatives, it is imperative that the legal rights and obligations of our municipalities—including Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach—are understood and respected.  As new regulations are considered, I believe it is critical to move forward with a process that is collaborative, transparent and fair.  Representatives of the Beaches municipalities—or other parties impacted by a pending piece of legislation—have the right and deserve the opportunity to provide feedback and input during the legislative process.

As Mayor, I will cultivate an environment that makes these principles—collaboration, transparency and integrity—a hallmark of my administration.   Representatives of all our communities deserve a voice in the legislative process—particularly with regard to specific legislative proposals.

As Mayor, I understand and respect the right of the beach communities to Home Rule as duly chartered municipalities with full authority vested in their leadership through Florida Statute.  I expect the elected leaders sitting on the City Council of Jacksonville and the Office of the General Counsel to understand the authority of the beach municipalities and not lead the City of Jacksonville into unnecessary confrontation with our sister cities but rather to work within the spirit of cooperation through forthright dialogue. 

Communication:  What, if anything, would you do to improve the City of Jacksonville’s communication and relationship with the beaches municipalities?

Upon taking office, I will convene regular meetings—and more often, when necessary— with the mayors of the three Beaches municipalities to discuss issues of concern.  The objective is simple: our government is at its best and most productive when stakeholders are in full communication.  No community should be blindsided—intentionally or unintentionally—by the other.

The Beaches municipalities are an important part of the broader City of Jacksonville, and as Mayor, I intend to strengthen and grow the relationship between the Beaches and the Mayor’s office.  As outlined above, I will conduct regular, substantive meetings between the Mayor’s office and the Beaches municipalities.  In addition to meeting directly with the mayors, I will ask my chief administrative officer to meet with the Beaches’ city managers on a routine basis.  When necessary, I will request that the General Counsel attend, as well.

With clear and established lines of communication, I believe we can identify needs, potential actions and opportunities where we may work together to improve the quality of life for our citizens—including residents of our Beaches.

Mayport:  What is your vision for the future of Mayport and how would you implement your vision?  Is a cruise ship terminal part of your vision for Mayport? 

Mayport Village is a historic and respected part of our community.  As any plans are considered that will impact the future of this village, one thing is certain: the citizens of Mayport must play a leading and defining role in the direction of that discussion.

What happened with the previous proposal to establish a cruise ship terminal in Mayport Village is an example of government at its worst.  Any planning for such a significant project should be thoughtful and transparent, keeping at its core the best interests of this historic community.   This did not happen in the past, and it has resulted in tremendous distrust—which continues today.  That must change moving forward.

Many factors must be taken into advisement with any discussion regarding a cruise ship terminal project, including suitability of the location, environmental concerns and economic impact, among others.  We should also think regionally and creatively, considering how any development at Mayport might impact or be designed to complement attributes and offerings of other communities, such as the Port of Fernandina.

It may also be helpful to identify similar development projects and best practices seen in other parts of our country—such as the development that has been done around cruise ship presence in San Diego.  Looking at work done by others, including the San Diego example, may offer insight and lessons learned as we consider the future of Mayport.  Thinking creatively – and openly and honestly – about a project of this magnitude is essential to reaching the right result.

As we think about Mayport Village, where the fishing industry is such an important economic and visible presence, I am also closely following changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which will close red snapper and other fishing, off our coast. Recent proposed and enacted regulatory moves to implement amendments to the act have already caused serious economic distress for many businesses, individuals and interests in our community.  

Without question, regulators such as the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) must be mindful of conservation needs and take appropriate steps to protect our fish and wildlife. However, it is essential that any recommendations that are made are based on sound science and accurate data.

Our fishing industry has demonstrated that it is not against appropriate regulations. Several years ago the industry embraced meaningful and appropriate regulations on red fishing and, as a result, that fish stock has rebounded. However, the industry is against total closures based on inaccurate data, and I agree with the fishing industry.

Many parties—including regulators themselves—have expressed concern with the science and data currently used to measure offshore bottom fish stock.  We must work to ensure that regulations are based on sound science and accurate data; we must also consider equitable geographic enforcement of these provisions. Those in and around our specific community alone cannot bear sole responsibility. As mayor, I will make this a priority for our representatives in Washington, and I will continue to follow developments and advocate on behalf of our businesses and citizens to promote a fair, sustainable and successful path forward.


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