In Santa Rosa, 81 percent applaud quality of life
More than four out of five Santa Rosa County residents — 81% — believe the county’s quality of life is positive.
Chief among the reasons is residents feel safe, value a solid school system and have access to quality health care.
That was the message delivered Monday night to a crowd of about 60 people in the County Commission meeting room at the Santa Rosa Administrative offices off U.S. 90 in Milton.
Quint Studer, founder of the Pensacola-based Studer Community Institute, which paid for the $25,000 study, discussed the results. This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Inc. of Washington, D.C., from Oct. 18 through Oct. 30. A total of 625 adult voters were interviewed by telephone. They were asked about economic conditions, job security, educational opportunities, availability of culture and entertainment, safety, the environment, the quality of local leadership and other key indicators of community health.
“If you don’t have people feeling safe, it’s over,” he said, pointing out 69% of the respondents rated public safety and fighting crime as “excellent” or “good.”
Studer said to keep the satisfaction high, community leaders must look for ways to keep young people in the community.
The poll revealed that 27% of those surveyed were high school graduates; 28% had some college education; 32% were college graduates and 13% had graduate degrees.
“You have a very intelligent county,” Studer said.
He also said counties that attract — and keep — talented people are the most successful ones. In the past, people moved to areas in search of a job, but that has changed.
“Today, Generation Z, they look for a place to live and then look for a job," Studer said. "So, how do you create the right place for young people? How do you create a vibrant place for young people? He said building more affordable housing will help retain young people, especially those starting a family. Only 25% of those polled rated the availability of affordable housing as “excellent” or “good.”
When asked if the county was on the “right track,” nearly half — 49% — said the county was on the right track; 37% thought it was on the wrong track, and 14% weren’t sure.
Among the issues that resulted in negative comments were the lack of public transportation, getting from place to place in traffic, the shortage of cultural opportunities, and a lack of a vibrant nightlife.
Looking to the future, 35% predicted the quality of life will improve while 45% said it would stay the same.
The ball is now in the county’s court. Business and political leaders must decide how best to use the data, Studer said.