HS_Candidate_forum_3-27-12_DSCF5800_copyL-R: High Springs commission candidates Scott Jamison and Ann Carter answered questions during  a March 27 forum.

HIGH SPRINGS – Two candidates running for commission in a special High Springs election responded to a series of questions in a March 27 forum hosted by the New Century Woman’s Club.  The question and answer session marked the only public discussion with both candidates, Ann Carter and Scott Jamison, in what has been an abbreviated campaign period.

Moderated by Woman’s Club President Barbara Miller, the forum provided for five preselected questions of the candidates as well as opening and closing statements.  Roughly 40 people attended the forum, which lasted about 45 minutes.

In providing personal background, Carter, retired, said she recently started a baking business.  She is originally from Jacksonville, Fla., but after attending college, Carter said she was employed at numerous places across the country throughout her career.  Most of Carter’s career was with the federal government, including with the United States Departments of Agriculture, Treasury, Transportation, Defense, Energy, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Air Force among others.

Jamison, 55 years old, said he has been married to his wife, Lynn, for 32 years.  He has three children and moved to the area in 2000 and to High Springs in 2005.  Originally from Gulfport, Fla., a small town south of St. Petersburg, Jamison said he has a bachelor’s degree in public recreation and later took additional courses to become a teacher.  He taught at area schools for several years and is now a personnel specialist in the human resources department at the School Board of Alachua County.

Editor’s note: The following is a summary of the questions and answers from the candidates

Q: Are you in favor of maintaining the city manager/commission form of government?

Jamison: I am in favor of the current system because the alternative is a commission that is involved in day-to-day operations of the city and politicizes the process.  It’s important to keep politics separate from administration so employees don’t have five or six bosses and everyone gets a fair shot.

Carter: I prefer a stronger commission where commissioners have more input into how things are run.  When you put all of the power under the city manager, you get someone who builds an empire and you take away the input from all of the voters.  I want the people of this city who vote for me to have a say and that power is through me.

Jamison rebuttal: The commission can solicit information under the current system, but the commission cannot direct an individual employee in their job.  The power is in the commission who ultimately hires and fires the city manager.

Q: How do you feel about media coverage of events occurring within High Springs’ city government and are you concerned with private filming or recording during public meetings?

Carter: It doesn’t bother me, but I don’t know why it would be appropriate, other than by the newspaper, but I see no point in a private citizen recording the meeting.  I strongly object to and am embarrassed by the media coverage, and it’s a disgrace.  I think freedom of speech and debate is good.  The ugliness needs to stop.

Jamison: When people know they’re being watched, they tend to do the right thing.  It should not matter if there is a camera or audio recording.  I don’t see any issue with it because the commission ought to be transparent anyway.  When the commission is casting votes, the people should know what they’re saying.

Carter Rebuttal: I do not have a problem with people speaking their mind at commission meetings.  But I was directing my comments to the ugliness that I have seen at the commission meetings and outside of the commission meetings:

Q: Which issues confronting High Springs today need to be addressed immediately?

Jamison: We are indebted to the sewer system so we need to figure out the most economical way to do it.  We need to increase the tax base.  We need to bring in some sort of industry, which means light manufacturing.

Carter: We need a plan for dealing with our sewer system when there is a storm and our electricity goes out.  I believe the present commission has taken some measures to control spending.  I also want us to get our police dispatch center back.

Q: Should the public be able to speak on published agenda items?

Carter: When it’s appropriate and when time is available, I think it’s healthy for members of the community to be able to speak on all matters.

Jamison: I think having a consistent policy is important so that if residents come to commission meetings, they know they will have the opportunity to express themselves.

Q: If you were elected, you would only serve for about six months; would you run for re-election in November?

Jamison: Yes.  This is where we chose to live.  I’m not going anywhere and barring any unforeseen circumstances, I would run again.

Carter: If it is God’s will, I will run for re-election.