Wellington Forum

In Wellington, the candidates for School Board district 6 were in attendance (incumbent Marsha Andrews and challengers Joseph Moore and Carla Donaldson), joined by one candidate from district 3 (John Hartman, who also attended the Boca event).

John Carey: Open Letter to the Citizens of Palm Beach County

Boca Candidate Forum Features Congressional, State Senate, County Commission and School Board

This PBCTP forum was jointly sponsored by South Florida 912.

At a table that spanned the width of the West Boca branch library meeting room, a good mix of candidates showed up to answer questions posed by moderator David DiCrescenzo. The candidates were sent a questionaire in advance of the event, and those and additional questions were posed appropriate to the type of seat sought. (See Candidate’s Position on Issues for the written responsess that were returned).

Congressional candidates participating were David Wagie and Paul Spain who will face each other and Andrea McGee in the August 26 CD22 Republican Primary for the seat currently held by Democrat Lois Frankel. For the county commission we had Democrat Paulette Burdick (who has won her district 2 seat by default but chose to participate for the constituent feedback), and Republican Steven Abrams who will face Democrat Andrew O’Brien in November. School board district 3 incumbent Karen Brill and challengers David Mech and John Hartman filled out the table, and we were joined briefly by Senate 34 incumbent Maria Sachs who in November will face the winner of the Republican primary between Ellyn Bogdanoff and Joseph Bensmihen (neither of who showed up).

Starting the questions with immigration, both Spain and Wagie gave the expected response for tough enforcement of the border. Senator Sachs on the other hand, who pointed out that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, stressed assimilation – that new immigrants should learn the language, learn civics, and forge cultural homogeniety. This was a popular answer for the mostly conservative crowd, and Democrat Sachs may have won some votes with this appearance. Before stepping out to another engagement, she invited all to visit her Boca office. “I am a STATE senator, she said, and when someone calls they get a hearing, regardless of what district they are in or to which party they belong.”

In other areas, the congressional pair had some interesting answers. Paul Spain is in favor of a federal budget freeze, combined with a 10% reduction in federal employees and a 5% pay cut. Favoring the posibility of a flat or fair tax, David Wagie would do away with the IRS, while Paul Spain would only cut it in half.

At the county commission level, Paulette Burdick went against the grain a little, speaking in support of Seven/50 – the sustainable development plan that many in PBCTP have argued against at commission meetings. It is a body of research that is a resource on which to draw – why should we reject available data? Both Burdick and Abrams told of their actions to hold down county spending, with Paulette pointing to her opposition to the out of control Sheriff’s budget and Steven listing the sales tax proposals he has opposed.

The School board candidates were a study in contrasts. Although these races are non-partisan, Republican Hartman makes no secret of his conservatism, and David Mech trumpets his in-your-face libertarianism. Mech, a small business owner whose background in the adult film industry is an interesting beginning on which to launch a school board bid, begged off on some of the questions, admitting he has not had time to research them. Hartman, whose major policy position is based on opposition to common core, saw many issues as black and white. Brill, with the advantage of 4 years in the job, had an understandably nuanced view. On Common Core, she said “that train has left the station” (referring to the standards themselves) as it has been in the implementation stage for several years. But we now have the ability to influence the assessment and the curriculum, she said, and that should be where the focus is. Hartman wants to roll back the program, as if the school board had that power. Mech said he supports Common Core.

On School choice, Brill supports the “full choice” proposal also supported by district 1 member Mike Murgio, which would let any student in the district choose the school they want to attend (subject to available space). Hartman supports choice outside of the district schools (ie. charters), but would look carefully at them for educational values beyond their business basis. Mech opposes school choice, believing it should be “all or nothing” – if we are going to have public schools, then money should not go to alternatives.

The district 4 candidates (who would represent parts of the south county area) did not participate.

North County Candidate Forum Draws Crowd at Abacoa

Seated at a long table, 10 candidates for 3 north county races (Congress 18, Senate 32, and House 82) answered questions from moderator Michael Williams, Emmy winning anchor of WPTV’s “To the Point“. The Palm Beach County Tea Party event was co-sponsored by South Florida 912.

Williams’ show, which airs on Sunday mornings, is a “must-watch” for county residents who follow local politics and issues. Over the last few months, he did on-air interviews with 5 of the 6 CD-18 candidates (Nick Wukoson will be on July 13), giving him a unique perspective on their positions and styles.

Unlike many grassroots forums where the organizers provide the questions, Williams did his own thing, although sticking to topics he thought would be of interest to the audience. Debt, taxes and Obamacare were covered as you would expect, but he also spent time on All Aboard Florida, money in politics, and helping local businesses, and took audience questions on immigration. The candidates for the Florida Legislature were also asked about Common Core.

Participating in the event were all 6 Republican candidates for Patrick Murphy’s CD18 (Carl Domino, Beverly Hires, Brian Lara, Alan Schlesinger, Calvin Turnquest and Nick Wukoson), Senate 32 incumbent Joe Negron, Republican opponent Brandon Cannon with Democrat challenger Bruno Moore, and House 82 incumbent Mary Lynn Magar who will face Democrat Mary Higgins in November.

The CD18 candidates gave predictable answers on debt and taxes (too high and won’t raise them, incentives to repatriate foreign capital), but they differed some on Obamacare. While most were for a “repeal and replace” strategy, promoting competition across state lines and health savings accounts, a few answers stood out. Carl Domino spoke of some of the “good” things in the Affordable Care Act and did not want to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Calvin Turnquest pointed out that advertisements for car insurance are all over the TV channels, but not health insurance, since competition is very limited in a government controlled system.

To help local businesses, Alan Schlesinger would allow individual health care deductions on the front of the 1040, so small business would get a similar break to large corporations.

Not surprisingly, all 10 of the candidates are opposed to the widely despised “All Aboard Florida” as presently proposed, and argued among themselves as to who was first to point out that it should be called “All About Freight”. It should be noted that Democrat Patrick Murphy is also now against it. Carl Domino pointed out that it is not accurate to call it a “private” enterprise, since it requires a $1.5B taxpayer loan guarantee, and very little financial or operating data has been disclosed to the public.

The state level candidates were also speaking from the same page on many issues (against Common Core, simplifying processes for small business), although Democrat Bruno Moore did point out that common education standards are needed to prepare today’s students for the global competition.

Immigration garnered a few differences in the candidates. Joe Negron opposes in-state tuition for illegals and promotes e-verify. Nick Wukoson pointed out that the current border crisis does not need new laws – enforcing the current ones would be sufficient. Brian Lara would oppose the expansion of H1B visas, such as those that provide for high-tech workers (and take jobs from home-grown specialists). Pointing out the fallacy in Williams question about illegals “taking jobs from Americans”, Alan Schlesinger pointed out that the real problem is not employment but the overburdening of the social systems. Calvin Turnquest, a legal immigrant himself from the Bahamas, summed it up with “I am the face of immigration”, and anyone who came to this country by following our laws is being disenfranchised by the flood of illegals who are circumventing the system.

Links to the “To the Point” interviews of the candidates can be found in our voters guide on the candidate”s pages. See: PB County Online Voter’s Guide