By Jeremie Samuel
Last Saturday morning, July 28, voters came out with a unique opportunity to meet this year’s local candidates at the Candidates Breakfast held in the Woodham Middle School Gymnasium. Escambia County residents, young and old, came out to put names to faces while gathering cards, flyers and pamphlets containing information on incumbents, former and new candidates.
While breakfast was served, voters had a chance to converse with candidates in an informal environment. Candidates informed local voters on platform points and citizens were able to express governmental concerns pertaining to the city and county. Alishia McDonald, the event coordinator and a former Circuit Judge candidate (2010), said she focused on the need for voters to become familiar with candidates in order to make more educated voting decisions.
“After running my campaign I saw a need to have an event that was non-partisan, free, and open to the entire community that gave the voters an opportunity to personally speak to their candidates,” McDonald said. McDonald said over 35 candidates, democrat and republican, attended the event. Likewise, many community organizations provided additional support by volunteering time and resources to make the breakfast possible.
“That type of diversity is what I am looking for,” McDonald said. “I want people to be educated and make their own mind up on who they should vote for.”
Incumbent Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas [R] was at the event and his opponent Claudia Brown-Curry [D] had a table set up with the campaign slogan “Success for Every Child” to represent her campaign. Sheriff David Morgan and John Russell Powell – both Republican and candidates for Escambia County Sheriff attended the breakfast.
Public Defender candidates Bruce A. Miller and James Owens both disseminated information at the gathering. Thomas S. Murphy for First Circuit, Group 15, Victor Cross for City Council at Large B, Pat Burkett [R] for Commissioner District 5, and Jesse Casey [R] for County Commissioner District 1, were other new candidates that came out to the breakfast to introduce themselves to the public.
Clinton E. Powell, Sr. [D], candidate for County Commissioner District 3 expressed his desire to improve the functional structure of the county.
“They’re top heavy, they work from top to bottom and it [doesn’t] work like that,” Powell said referring to the Escambia County Commissioner’s operational setup. “I will build success from the bottom to the top.”
Hugh King, county commissioner candidate [District-3], mentioned the experience he has over his opponents as to why he is better qualified.
“I have experience as an elected official with three terms as city councilman for Pensacola before I vacated it to become full-time pastor at Greater Union Baptist Church,” King said. “I have also worked in the community as a civil rights activists and educator.”
Lumon May, also a candidate for county commissioner [District-3] said that he brings new progressive thought, new energy and new ideals.
“There must be quality, fairness and inclusion,” May said referring to employment opportunities within the Black community. “We can address unemployment locally by making sure we spend our dollars locally. We need to create jobs and not only jobs but create careers for young people. That means we have to get in line with our educational system. You have to align your economic system with your education system.”
Annie Thomas Walker, candidate for county commission [District-3], it is about community action.
“My experience is working with the neighborhoods,” Walker continued, “and that’s [what] I love to do. I have worked on projects for the county. I enjoy doing that and I just enjoy helping people.”
New candidates like Benell English and Clorissti Mitchell [D] met voters as they go up against the vetted incumbent Elvin McCorvey [D] for ECUA District 3.
“ECUA is a policy making board, so the experience required for that job is a person who knows how to make policy,” Mitchell said. “I worked on Capitol Hill and I come with that policy making experience. I do understand policy. I understand the battle and ideal behind it.”
Benell English [D] said he will work to inform the public more on the environment and work to ensure environmental water quality is maintained.
“I will let the people know what is available, make sure they have access to all the information and resources that are available,” English said. “Having worked for Monsanto I have more experience with pipes and water systems than my opponents.”