Members of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce got a little taste on Wednesday on what some of the local candidates running for election Nov. 3 had to offer.
The chamber’s Coffee Co-Op with the Candidates was held at the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum in Kissimmee, where the candidates and business community mingled for about an hour.
Chamber members were asked to briefly speak about their businesses before the candidates were given each a minute to speak about how their platforms, and how they would be able to assisted the business community if they were elected. Here are just some samples of the candidate commentary:
• Donny Shroyer (Nonpartisan) – running for St. Cloud Council seat 2
“Being on the council is the epitome of leadership. It’s where the rubber meets the road. You get the positive, you get the negative, but what are we going to do for you? How are we going to help the local businesses? I want you to be successful. I want everyone in St. Cloud to be successful. Let’s push for economic drivers. Let’s help every business get more work. More business. More sales.
• St. Cloud Mayor Nathan Blackwell (Nonpartisan) – running for re-election to seat 1.
“We have worked diligently as a city to be pro growth when it comes to businesses. We are going the extra mile right now helping struggling businesses to recover by making a big investment trying to help you guys back on your feet.”
• Kolby Urban (Nonpartisan) – running for St. Cloud City Council seat 3.
“I believe in prioritizing public safety, controlling growth verses sustainable development standards and being a voice for small businesses. We need to make sure the developers are paying for the impact they are having on the community. I want to be that voice for you on the council and give you the tools you need to succeed.”
• Marco Lopez (Democrat) – running for Osceola County sheriff. (He beat incumbent Sheriff Russ Gibson in the August primary.)
“It wasn’t easy to win this primary being I was the underdog. I didn’t have a lot of money. I’m going to work for all citizens of Osceola County. I think we’re going to build a better relationship with the Sheriff’s Department and the citizens of Osceola County.’
•Tony Fernandez (No party affiliation) – running for Osceola County Sheriff.
“I am a family man. When I get elected Nov. 3 I’ll make sure all the businesses are secure so we can bring more businesses. One message for everybody: I will bring equal justice for all.”
• Ricky Booth (Republican) – running for Osceola County Commission district 5.
“For the past six years, I’ve served on the (Osceola County) School Board, extremely proud of the work we’ve done there, moving our district from a C to a B, highest impact fees in the state, lowest administrative costs in the state, meaning we’re putting the most money back in the classroom as we can. So why am I running (for district 5)? Controlled growth. Growth has to pay for itself. Roads, schools public safety, parks, protect our environment.” The way we do that is promote the environmental stewardship of agricultural operations in St. Cloud. That’s our green space.”
• Tahitiana Chaffin (Democrat) – running for Osceola County Commission district 5.
“I look forward to bringing something fresh and new and exciting to have really great productive communication with the residents, which I feel is lacking right now.”
• Fred Hawkins Jr. (Republican) – running for State House of Representatives district 42 (Osceola/Polk counties).
(Hawkins’ campaign manager Zac Stone attended and spoke for him.)
“He’s very involved in his community. If he’s not involved in his church, he’s with his family. He’s a very, very involved guy. What does he care about? He cares about small businesses, bringing the jobs back from China and reopening safely. He also would like to improve infrastructure, invest in education, which is obviously very, very important and conserve our national resources.”
• Barbara Cady (Democrat) – running for State House of Representatives district 42 (Osceola/Polk counties).
“When you think of my candidacy, please think of quality of like and the three E’s: education, economics and environment. I think all of those are very important for our small businesses to thrive and our families to do we.”
• Marcos Marrero (Libertarian) – running for Osceola County Commission district 3.
“As a resident of Poinciana for about 20 years now, I understand that our community thrives when business thrives. So being out of Poinciana where business has been lacking for many years, I understand that we need to increase that influx of business to be able to have that community that we search for.”
• Jeff Hawk (Republican) – running for Osceola County Commission district 3.
“I am not a politician. I am a citizen of the county. I work for the citizens of the county and also the local businesses, and my plan is to put the voice of the community back on the Board of County Commission, which is definitely lacking.”
• Lou Minnis (Republican) – running for State Senate district 15 (Osceola/Orange counties).
One of the things I want to do is get the businesses back running again. I understand how to do that as a business owner. There are several things we need to do (for law enforcement). Not defund, but actually put more funds to educate the police because they are the first responders.”
• Mike James (Independent) – running for State Senate district 15 (Osceola/Orange counties).
According to his website, James said, “The job of state senator is to create, modify, update and pass laws that will benefit not only the citizens of South Orange and Osceola County, District 15, but also those of the entire state. Political agendas often come into play when the creation or modifications of laws are proposed. President Ronald Reagan said, ‘There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.’”
Chamber President Dirk Webb thanked the candidates at the closing of the event.
“We wish you all the best. We wish for you that the conversations be above board and very well thought out and very respectful, and we look forward to seeing what the voters have to say in November,” Webb said.