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Ralph Thomas seeks re-election

Ralph Thomas seeks re-election
Commission Chairman wants to continue public service in second term Printed in the Wakulla News, Wednesday, September 28, 2016 at 12:28 pm (Updated: September 28, 12:29 pm) Special to The News Ralph Thomas is a lifelong servant.      As Wakulla County Commission Chairman, the District 1 incumbent is in a position to continue that level of service to the community for another four years.      Thomas served our country in the U.S. Navy. He is proud to be a veteran and is proud to live in a county that honors the service of more than 3,000 veterans who live in Wakulla County. He has worked hard for the past four years serving and representing the citizens of Wakulla County at the local and state level. He continues to advocate for small and efficient government that is a good steward of the people’s money. He recently voted with the board for a 3 percent reduction in property taxes. He voted against the board for a tax increase that occurred in 2015. He is the only candidate for District 1 County Commissioner who has never voted for a tax increase. He is an outspoken advocate for individual freedom and property rights.      “I am not a county commissioner because I know what is best for you,” Thomas said. “I am a county commissioner because I understand that you know what is best for you. I’m here to make sure the government serves you, and not the other way around.”      Thomas formally announces his run for reelection. He qualified for reelection back in June, however, recent changes to the County Charter specify, when only two candidates qualify, both candidates will skip the Primary Election and will appear on the General Election Ballot on Nov. 8. To avoid any confusion, Commissioner Thomas chose to make this announcement after the Primary was complete.      Commissioner Thomas currently represents Wakulla County in District 1. He is being challenged by his fellow Commissioner Howard Kessler, who previously represented District 4 and currently represents District 3 but chose not to run for re-election in his current district, instead would now like to un-seat Thomas and represent District 1.      Thomas was first elected in 2012. His goal was to be actively involved in all aspects of county government to ensure sound decisions...

Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center issue...

Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center issue
Wakulla Commissioners to take up Community Center...

A Better Option for the Community Center

I was recently asked, “What is the most important feature of a Community Center?”  I pondered the question for a brief moment then responded, “The answer is quite simple.  The most important feature is the Community itself.”  I’m guessing there must be hundreds or thousands of Community Centers across the Country.  I’m certain, none of them are the same, nor do they provide the same services to the community.  The success of a Community Center is not guaranteed by simply allowing an organization to duplicate its plan into our community. Why am I bringing this up?  As you read this, our county is rapidly heading toward allowing the YMCA to operate our Community Center.  If that is all you heard about this proposal, you might think that’s a great idea.  I think most of us can agree that the YMCA is a first class organization that brings value to the community.  The purpose of this letter is not to bash the YMCA, because I truly do respect the organization, but I feel compelled to make sure that our citizens are given the complete picture. Let’s start by discussing the proposed agreement with the YMCA.  Our Community Center was purchased with 1.4 million tax payer’s dollars.  We are currently in the process of spending nearly $400,000 to build a third building on the property.  By a 3 to 2 vote of the Board of County Commissioners, an additional $250,000 is proposed to be spent on the third building.  The agreement will then require us to turn over control of this $2,000,000 facility to the YMCA.  The YMCA will not be required to pay rent, nor will they be required to pay for major maintenance on the facilities.  Wakulla County will pay for all utilities and we will even mow the grass and maintain the grounds. After using millions of tax payer’s dollars to ensure the YMCA’s success, they will then be allowed to compete with local companies who offer similar services to our community already, such as fitness centers, gymnastics, martial arts etc. Is this the best deal we can put on the table for our citizens.  I say no and would like to offer up a better option.  I would like to see us bring together the best community programs that already exist in our county.  By doing this...