Will Santa Rosa conservatism backfire?

santarosaBy Deborah Nelson

Santa Rosa voters are historically conservative, and yesterday’s election was no exception.

In the past, Santa Rosa’s conservative approach has helped prevent Other People’s Money from being looted and squandered at the levels we see in Escambia and Okaloosa.

It looks like Santa Rosa voters are still cautious about handing money over to elected officials after the infamous Pullum “industrial park” land buy.  The penny sales tax, which officials said would be used for a new courthouse, failed to pass after all the ballots were in yesterday.

Navarre voters also rejected an incorporation poll designed to gauge interest in forming a new municipality.  Concerns expressed in an incorporation study and prior to the election included potential new taxes, fiscal mismanagement and an extra layer of government.

santa rosa county 2014 electionWhen it comes to fiscal questions, conservative voting has undoubtedly saved Santa Rosa taxpayers countless millions.

Non-financial issues are another story.

The Amendment 2 medical marijuana initiative failed to garner the 60% needed to pass last night.  The amendment actually pulled 55 percent approval in Santa Rosa, but it wasn’t enough to push it over the top.  According to statewide polls, much of the pre-election opposition was coming from conservative voters, who may have “moral” objections to marijuana’s association with party culture.

So at the end of the day, we’re no closer to ending expensive, taxpayer subsidized “drug war” policing.  We’re no closer to ending Federal, State and Local government’s massive growth and expansion under the aegis of “combating” drugs.  We’re no closer to ending the medical and pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly over pain management.  We’re no closer to ending the prison industry’s endless tax-subsidized incarceration wealth-creation program.  We’re no closer to ending drug gang and terrorist profiteering off black market substances.  We’re no closer to regaining the personal freedom, states’ rights and individual responsibility the “drug war” has stolen from us.

Thanks “conservatives.”

Speaking of backfiring, another, more basic, conservative tendency was also on display this voting season.

Despite a record county commission candidate field, Santa Rosa voters overwhelmingly rejected women in 2014 (except to the School Board, a field historically considered female-appropriate).

In District 4 (where Inc. Navarre and other residents raised loud voices against Commission representation from “outside the district”) Navarre area voters (along with the rest of the County) elected a commissioner who relocated his address to Navarre before running.

In the process, they voted down 4 highly qualified female candidates in the Primary.  One who manages communities for a living (which includes telling people why there’s no money in the budget for more toys); one who’s a licensed CPA accountant; one who’s managed construction contracts and worked in party politics for years and one who monitored and reported on local and community issues for the Navarre-based newspaper.

They were all conservatives.  At least two ran on a platform that included rejecting new taxes.

Then, Santa Rosa voted against two more female candidates in last night’s general election.  Both have worked tirelessly, for no money, for years, to ensure East Milton drinking water wells are safe from poisonous dump encroachment.  Both have attended most County Commission hearings for years, and have often been the only voices raised on the record in defense of taxpayer and the local citizenry’s interests.  Both were highly qualified.  Both garnered only 20% of the vote.

The winning commissioners now constitute a whole new voting bloc with the power to pass all kinds of things local conservatives may find they dislike far more than female leadership.

For example, it takes a supermajority, 4 of 5 commissioners, to vote in a gas tax increase.

With a sales tax rejected, that might be a next step to pay for a courthouse.

Etta Lawlor, who lost the District 4 election last night, has been researching what it would cost to buy the K-Mart/Food World complex on Hwy. 90 and turn it into a judicial center.  That’s what happened with the current Commission complex, which used to be a grocery store.  Early indications are, it could cost a fifth of the proposed new courthouse bill.

Wonder what the odds are the new, Etta-less Commission will pursue that option.

Of course, it only takes 3 of 5 commissioners to pass a property tax hike.

And they can put a courthouse anywhere they want now.

But at least we’re all safe from pesky women on the BOCC threatening everybody’s traditional sensibilities.  WHEW!


  • Romi White says:


  • Yvonne Harper says:

    While I agree with some of the writer’s view points, I disagree with others.

    To her point regarding Amendment 2, the effects of the “War on Drugs” would not disappear simply because medical marijuana is allowed. Also, medical marijuana could be allowed if the Florida Legislators passed a bill allowing it, then once signed by the Governor, it would be law.

    However, to her main point regarding voters not electing women in the general election – it had nothing to do with the opposing candidates, District 2 and 4, being women. They weren’t elected because they weren’t Republican. If one reviews the percentage of Republican voters, it will be discovered that the percentage is close to the percentage the Republican candidates got. Sadly, most Americans vote party identification over other factors, such as gender. This is true for Democrats and Republicans. The two-party system has been the ruin of our nation because too often people equate party to good governance when this is simply not the case. Also, on the federal and state levels, what is best for the party trumps what is best for the nation and state. If we truly want reform, we should petition our government to remove party affiliation from voter registration forms and make all constitutional offices non-party affiliated.

    However, her point about others deciding District 4’s commissioner is spot on. The primary winner did not carry District 4 but rather he won because he carried District 2, Milton. After the primary, because he is a Republican, it was a given he would win.

  • Patrick Traynor says:

    I Also disagree with the authors view on thier opinion on rejection of amendment 2. My belief on reasons for rejection of marijuana are many and diverse. Marijuana legalization has not been the cure all in the states that have legalized it. California started medical marijuana with the supposed reason to help those with serious medical issues. That medical use quickly was twisted into a sham
    And a way to allow those who were not truly sick to purchase marijuana in order to get high. Is this what is needed in our society a society that is under the influence of drugs working and driving amoughst us? I spoke to a family member last night that lived in Colorado before and after the legislation of marijuana. She stated before legalization the downtown area was a beautiful area of flowers and a joyful place to walk with your children. After legalization the downtown area changed from a place of joy and beauty to a crime ridden area where the residents now feared to walk. So much for the argument that legalization will cut back on crime California faces many of same new problems from legalization. I do no believe in seeing people suffering but where are those abusing the legalization being held accountable for their actions.
    Patrick J. Traynor

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