Thank You Gene Valentino

Randy Cudd

Randy Cudd

THIS WAS SUBMITTED TO THE PENSACOLA NEWS JOURNAL AS A VIEWPOINT:

By Randy Cudd

 

Seven years ago Gene Valentino gave a real voice at the table to the people of the west side for the first time in 30 years. We have had commissioners before but none that cared as much as Gene, we were “the redheaded stepchild” of Escambia County. We have been a cash cow for the bed/sales tax revenues and we were left off of Escambia County maps, Pensacola Area Chamber maps and generally ignored by the county in general. The “no growers” fought Gene at every turn from the first election attempt to the last because he would not do it their way.

Gene was never afraid to be controversial; he stepped into the fray on occasions; He saw an opportunity, when in the middle of the worst economic down turn since the great depression, a developer came to Perdido Key to build a hotel and casino (BINGO). He saw jobs and revitalization of a depressed economy others saw it as a cheapening of the island, but he tried.

Gene Valentino

Gene Valentino

When the County was in a pinch to cover the firing of an opportunistic Administrator he recommended for the job his recent opponent that knew how to make the county work. He championed bringing George Touart back when he knew it would hurt him politically.

Gene championed a fuel tax that costs the tax payers approximately $22 per year but in doing so helped to save property owners an increase in their property tax and saved the citizens over $52 Million dollars. He knew it would be seen as a tax increase and would hurt him politically, but he did it anyway and we are better off for it as most of the money brought into the general fund from this tax is brought in by non-resident “pass through” fuel buyers.

He champions the widening of Hwy 292, for safety sake and to allow for the growth that is coming. With this he pushed for sidewalks, bike paths and underground utilities. Many people that have “their piece of paradise” don’t want change.

Gene pushed for parks and the Sports-Plex that sits in District #1.

The Perdido Key Visitors Center/Fire Station is an award winning, state of the art facility that was Gene’s vision.

He installed over 30 miles of sidewalks from neighborhoods all through Warrington to Gulf Beach Hwy.

Many millions of Tax dollars returned to District #2, over $300 Million.

 

The sheriff wanted $18M dollars from the tax payers to satisfy the DOJ and threatened to give the jail back to the county if he did not get it. Gene asked Budget and finance to check the numbers and they said it would take much less so Gene and three other Commissioners said “OK, we will take it.” The DOJ just signed off for much less. If the Sheriff had gotten his way we would have had to raise the property tax.

 

Gene focused on his people in District 2 and worked tirelessly, about 50-60 hours a week, for the entire county. His focus on job growth and his desire to bring jobs in the Aero-space Industry have begun something that will bear fruit for years to come.

 

There is so much more that Gene has contributed to the community that there is no way to list them all but, here is one secret that even his wife did not know; Gene returned most of his government salary to the needy in the community, he never did it for the money. It was his honor to serve his community,

It was our honor to have him serve us…..THANK YOU GENE!

5 Comments

  • Bill Rayburn says:

    Gene V was trruly a comissioner for all the county. During his 8 years in office, he did his best (and his best was damn good), to represent not only Dist 2 residents, but all county residents. I am in Dist 1, and always went to Gene as well as Wilson, with any item of interest. Wilson, is good, very good, but two are better. It is too bad he lost, but am not surprised with the attacks he came under. Our Sheriff, is truly the King of the County. Lets see where that gets us, and watch out guys he now runs the Comission, or will soon. Lets see how that tax rate goes then.Just hope we have not lost him from public life. Too few of his knowledge and vigor around, and willing to take on the issues of public service. Best of everything Gene, and hang in there. You did good. Keep on Keeping on

  • Linda Youd Kennedy says:

    Yes, I totally agree…Gene Valentino did an excellent job for District 2. He was always available and listened well. I am sorry to see him gone. Many small jobs, fix ups got done…CRA thrived…..Warrington, that many fail to mention by the name has improved and more to come. Thank you Gene and stay strong and don’t give up!

  • Alexis Bolin says:

    Gene
    I can’t thank you enough for all the times you helped us folks out in Dristict 5 with issues that came before the County Commission.

    Because of your hard work our county is a better place to live.

    Michael and I wish you well in your next endeavor.

    Stay in touch.

    Alexis

  • Jim Lent says:

    Gene bucked the “good ol’ boy establishment”, to work for we the people and, eventually, all of Escambia County. Because of him, we, in District 2,have, for the first time, actually received the piece of the pie we all paid for. Doug has a huge pair if shoes to fill, and a great act – and example – to follow. Let’s pray he does.

  • Jim Lent says:

    Gene broke the mold of the typical “good ol’ boy mentality”, that has prevailed among the ranks “Escambia County Commissioners”. He was responsible to Escambia County, not just District 2. His accomplishments are numerous, and the great programs he championed with insufficient support, were lost opportunities for Escambia County. Because of him, District 2, for the first time, received its fair share of the pie its citizens paid into. He conceived and promoted great programs which, had they been given proper support, would have made Escambia County even better. For example, the bond issue he championed to build and repair our inadequate road system was, indeed, a lost opportunity that needs to be resurrected!. For certain, District 2 and all of Escambia County is a far better than before Gene Valentino. A job extremely well done! Jim Lent

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