A Leon County commissioner seeking his second term faced criticism from his two first-time challengers who claimed he was ineffective and vowed to make changes.
Commissioner Rick Minor is being challenged by state worker Joey Lamar and business owner Damon Victor. The three squared off June 23 in a joint forum that was hosted by the Tallahassee Democrat, WFSU and the League of Women Voters.
Minor’s opponents came out of the gate critical of his work in District 3. He repeatedly said they were "misinformed or purposefully misleading" voters.
The district stretches from Tharpe Street north to the Georgia line and includes Lake Jackson. It’s eastern boundary is North Monroe Street with a leg jutting between Interstate 10, Miccosukee and Fleishmann roads.
Watch the full forum at tallahassee.com here.
Here are excerpts:
Homelessness is becoming a more visible problem in Leon County. What’s one thing we can do to help on that front?
Lamar: “What we have to do is get people in housing first. Individual units. Then we have to provide them any service they may need, whether it's mental health substance abuse, drug abuse. Then our goal should be to find them jobs and get them out of temporary housing into permanent housing of their own. Homelessness is not something that should be normalized. It’s not something that we should be accepting in our district.”
Minor: “During the pandemic, the Kearney Center had basically 300 people live in hotel rooms in the North Monroe corridor. I negotiated with the Kearney Center to have those folks as soon as possible, earlier than planned, come in to the Kearney Center and receive some of the comprehensive care they need to move toward stable housing. At the county and the city, we invested a record amount of funding into homelessness because we know it's a problem. We’ve utilized the street outreach team to go homelessness camps, talking with folks, gaining their trust and encouraging them to get off the streets and into some of the facilities that we have to help them find stable housing.”
Victor: “The Kearney Center is overloaded. We should work on the mental health aspect of it and have a place for people to go before they end up homeless so that they can deal with their mental health issue before it turns into a substance abuse issue and before they lose their job and their home.”
What was your position on the recent allocation of $27 million to renovate Doak Campbell Stadium from the money required to be spent for Economic Development Projects?
There were four votes on the project. One in May 2021, two others in September and December and a final vote to bond $6.5 million in February 2022. Minor reversed his stance on the project ahead of the December vote, announcing he would attempt to rescind the offer to FSU.
Lamar: “The commissioner’s values no longer align with the district. That doesn’t make him a bad person. It just means we need somebody else in office. This money could have been used to attract a company like Ford. Ford was looking for a place to build their electric vehicles. We could have at least made an overture to Ford to come to Tallahassee. We can’t do that now.”
Minor: “FSU is the No. 1 economic driver in this county, so initially I supported the idea. But after that first vote, I heard from everyone… they didn’t want those Blueprint sales tax dollars going to that project. After the hearing from them… I made the decision these dollars should be spent in other ways. Once I made that decision I was very satisfied with it and never looked back.”
Victor: “From the beginning Rick Minor was for this funding. I was against it. The economic dollars could have been used for North Monroe Street to help the businesses out there. For seven months the incumbent ignored public outcry, including my own, only to make an 11th hour reversal to save political face. I don’t think that’s listening to the people, I think that’s saving your own skin. FSU has so much funding coming from the state, coming from the Boosters, coming from tuition, that they didn’t need to come and try to take all the money off our table for our economic development future.”
Why should voters choose you?
Lamar: “We’ve got to have a championship mentality. Champions get the job done they don’t make excuses. They get results. We have to have it right now in this seat and right now we don’t have it. When you don’t have a championship mentality, you don’t have a winners mentality, this is what happens. You have homelessness that's out of control, crime on the rise in our district, unmanaged, unbridled growth so what we need to do is make sure we have that championship mentality.”
Minor: “If my opponents were running in a different race, I still would not vote for them. They just have not shown a long-term commitment to District 3 and this community. It’s like each of them woke up one morning and thought it’d be neat to be a county commissioner and right about the time they filed to run for office they started being really busy and trying to show everybody they care.”
Victor: “I want people to know that they should vote for me because I want neighborhoods to be proactive and not reactive. It seems when developments happen or infrastructure is built, that they’re left out of the process or they come in too late and their opinion isn’t taken in or acted upon.”
Mayoral forum set for Wednesday
Tune in for a Q&A with candidates for City of Tallahassee Mayoral candidates John Dailey, Kristin Dozier, Michael Ibrahim and Whitfield Leland III. Visit tallahassee.com or our YouTube or Facebook page to watch live at 1 p.m. on July 6. If you can’t make the live broadcast, watch a replay on-demand later. This year, the Tallahassee Democrat is partnering with the League of Women Voters and WFSU in candidate forums for all the local races. Send questions ahead of the forum to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Karl Etters at email@example.com or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Leon County District 3 candidates: Opponents critical of incumbent's work