How do those running for local office stand on certain issues? Do you want more information on them before voting in the August 28 primary? The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce is on it.
The Chamber is sending out questionnaires to a number of candidates for local offices.
“We view our role as getting information to people unfiltered, unbiased. But we do not endorse, we do not take positions on candidates,” said Todd Thomson, the Chamber’s VP of Public Affairs.
This is the second time the Chamber has sent out such a questionnaire since the organization split from Visit Pensacola and Florida West a few years ago. The Chamber, says Thomson, has morphed into an advocacy organization.
“Really focusing in on local government; trying to make Pensacola and Escambia County business-friendly,” said Thomson. “But also, [we] want to make sure that our voters are informed on the issues, on where the candidates stand on issues that are important to the business community.”
The idea is to get answers from the candidates with no filters and no spin. The targeted races involve Pensacola mayor; Pensacola City Council Districts four and six, and Escambia County Commission Districts two and four. The questions are tailored to the particular office being sought.
“Business climate, regulations, where the candidates stand on those issues,’ Thomason said. “Operations and infrastructure where they can make some impact there. And then just overall economic development – what is should look like and what should the role of government be in that conversation.”
Candidates receiving the questionnaire have until July 9 to fill out and return them. Once they’re collected, says Thomson, the surveys will be distributed through a press release, email, and social media.
“We think that’s enough time to get good, robust answers from everyone,” said Thomson. “We want to make sure that as many people as possible see these answers, and have the opportunity to understand where each candidate stands on these issues.”
But, what if some candidates don’t return the paperwork?
“If they don’t respond, if they don’t give us the answers in time, then they miss out on this opportunity to get their platform out in front of people,” Thomson said.
So far, the Chamber’s Todd Thomson says it’s undecided whether they’ll put out another questionnaire for candidates making it to the November 6 general election.
“We will take a look at that, we’ll have to see what the situation is with some of the runoff,” Thomson said. “Last time I think we just kept it on the primary; but I believe most of the races were decided in the primary. So we’ll have to take a look at that for the fall.”
And Thomson has a bit of a homework assignment for voters after the surveys are released next month. He's urging them to be on the lookout for the answers prior to going to the polls.