Pensacola Young Professionals along with the Chamber of Commerce, Seville Rotary Club, and Propeller club are hosting the second of two candidate forums Tuesday night at Phinneas Phogg’s at Seville Quarter. Round one had candidates for Tax Collector, County Commission District 5, and County Commission District 1.
The candidates discussed budgets and infrastructure, past performance and talking to constituents but for most participants the forums are as much about meeting the real people behind the yard signs as they are about policy proposals.
Erik Petersen is the ambassador chair of PYP.
“What brought me here tonight was the chance to meet up with the political candidates. Too often you sort of see them on the ballot without getting to meet them in person.”
Petersen also felt a particular obligation to learn as much as possible about local offices and the candidates running for them as he continues to build a life and career here.
”These people, they actually, when they make their policy decisions, you feel those immediately. When it comes to congress, when it comes to presidents, you feel those about ten years out. But when these guys make their decisions, it’s right at home and it’s immediate.”
Brooke Johnson named infrastructure, education, and business opportunities as her top concerns, which make sense given her roles as the director of the Gulf Coast African American Chamber of Commerce and board member of Achieve Escambia, an educational organization.
“One of my major concerns is education and fair contracting. Only one percent of minority businesses get contracting in the city.”
She also pointed out that education is the foundation for a strong workforce.
“when you get new businesses here you want to have qualified candidates for those jobs.”
Alex Andrade is the chair of PYP’s government affairs & economic development team and he organized the candidate forums. For Andrade, an attorney, the forums and local elections are important because they represent hyperlocal decisions about the tax climate for businesses, the direction of public education, and fighting to expand career opportunities.
“We’re hearing about Trump and Clinton every day but we’re not hearing about County Commission district one which will be deciding how we spend our BP money or county commission district five which is about solving problems when tornadoes hit. Those races matter more to Pensacola than president does, to be honest with you, and it’s good opportunity to feature them and give them the opportunity to introduce themselves to voters.”
If you want to introduce yourself to candidates for Escambia County Superintendent, School Board district one, or Escambia County Commission district three the second candidate forum is tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola.