Here are the first round of candidate questionnaires for the 2012 election.

We are republishing those questionnaires from the candidates that were sent out earlier this year that won the primary in August. Those questionnaires are here in these pages, published alongside the opposing candidates that were not on the primary ballot but will be on the general ballot on Nov. 6 (Those that participated).


To give you an even better sense of the candidate, we decided to ask them four more questions. Those questions and the candidate’s answers will be published in the Oct. 24 edition as well as on this web site. This will include the state attorney, sheriff and property appraiser race. 


To wrap up this election cycle forum, our picks will be published in the Oct. 26 edition and on this website in addition to our thoughts on each of the 11 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.

We began interviewing the candidates at our office this week and getting to know them better before we make our picks. 


A note to the candidates.

Oct. 26 is the last publication date that we will allow candidate announcements free of charge. You are entitled to one free announcement on the front page. Anything after that, is a paid advertisement. 


Early voting commences Oct. 27.

 

United States Senator



Naomi Craine (Wri)

Question 1


Why are you running for U.S. senator?

As the candidate of the Socialist Workers Party, I am running to present workers an alternative to the capitalist-beholden politicians. I am a factory worker, and my campaign is a working-class, labor, socialist voice in the election for Senate.

The problems workers face here are not unique to Florida. Working people around the world are bearing the brunt of a far-reaching world capitalist economic crisis that has barely begun. Millions are unemployed, while those of us who have jobs are working harder, faster, for less pay.

From the parents of Trayvon Martin to the Mardi Gras Casino workers fighting to organize a union, as a candidate, I point to the examples of workers and farmers resisting discrimination and exploitation as the way forward. It’s not about what I will do when elected, but how can we fight more unified and effectively.

As we go through such struggles, we will see the system cannot produce justice for working people. That’s why my campaign also points to the need for a revolutionary transformation of society, to take power from the propertied class and replace it with the political rule of the working class.

Question 2

The Affordable Care Act has been a hot issue for sometime and most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the new national health care law. Are you in support of the Act? If so why, and if not why? Give three reasons.


I do not support the Affordable Care Act. It will be a profit bonanza for the insurance, drug, and hospital corporations; it imposes a regressive tax on working people in who will be required to buy insurance or pay penalties; and it in fact cuts Medicare and Medicaid.

I’m for health care being a right from cradle to grave. Such a demand cannot be legislated, however. We should remember that it was the struggles of workers that won Social Security and Medicare. Floridians should study the example set by workers and farmers in Cuba when they took power in 1959. They began to build a society based on human needs, not profits. In doing so, health care became a social right.

Question 3


One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?


Only a fighting labor movement can protect our water. Regardless of the legislation passed, bosses will continue to cut corners on safety and environmental protections to maximize profits. Using union power in the political arena, we can organize work stoppages at places where the health of environment and of the worker are disregarded. Our starting point should not be “attracting growth.” We should begin with defending land and labor.

Question 4


What do you think of the No Child Left Behind Act? What should its future hold?

The No Child Left Behind Act is neither the problem, nor the solution to the question of education. The education system in its totality is designed to reinforce existing social attitudes and class relations. Workers are taught deference and obedience in the classroom. These lessons are then backed up by the cops in the streets and skyrocketing incarceration rates. For those who manage to get a college degree, the rulers hope they will be more dependable supporters of the status quo.

When the working class takes power, we will reorganize society to make education a human activity from the time we are very young, until the time we die. Our lives will not be divided into sections such as students, then workers, then retirees. We will be thinking, creative producers who labor and study our entire lives.


Robert Monroe (Wri)


Question 1


Why are you running for U.S. senator?


I believe we must focus on Balancing the Federal Budget. I have built a concept called Fair Care with details how it can be done.

My hope is to encourage the American People that we can solve the US

Financial Crises. We have to be bold, I believe that by providing the

American people with an personal Social Security account and encouraging

responsibility, while expanding Liberty we just might be able to balance

the budget. Fair Care's Social Security formula 21% of the Federal Budget. (same as in

2010) In 2011 it is estimated that the Federal government will take in 2.5

Trillion dollars.

Formula

2.5 Trillion x 21% = 525 Billion  - 525 Billion / 310 Million Americans =

$1700 per American. This 1700 dollars will go into your Social Security

Account; This is your money, your retirement money and when you pass this

will go to your next of kin.

Advantage to owning your own Social Security account, if you were to need

Food Stamps or Unemployment Compensation you simply take it from your

Social Security Account. In return we can Expand Liberty. An example you

want to retire at 50, fine as long as you understand that the monies in

your Social Security account is all you will receive, go and enjoy your

retirement.

I built Fair Care so that the Young will benefit most, when Fair Care

becomes law an infant will have a Social Security account with between

$30-40K (depending on the economy) when they graduate from High School.

Their Account is there for their retirement or in case they encounter a

personal Hardship. Remember when people have something, they have something

to loose. Give people the opportunity to make personal choices and I

believe amazing things can happen.

Question 2

The Affordable Care Act has been a hot issue for sometime and most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the new national health care law. Are you in support of the Act? If so why, and if not why? Give three reasons. 


I would vote to repel it.

I understand you want three reasons, forgive me for not answering this

question, I would prefer explaining to you that I intend on installing

“Fair Care” in Place of the Affordable act.

Fair Care Provides a Health Care Voucher for every American to the tune of

$2000 per American (in 2011). Because the States regulate Insurance the

Governor and State Leaders will determine coverage for their states

residents.

Fair Care Health Care Voucher formula 25% of the Federal Budget. (same as

2010)

Formula

2.5 Trillion x 25% = 625 Billion – 625 Billion / 310 Million Americans =

$2016 per American. The intent is to get Healthcare away from employers and

back with the American People.

This will greatly assistance the Businesses and Government because the

cost of the employee's healthcare could than be added to

businesses/governments bottom line. My hope is to fire up economy so we can

really begin to pay down the debt.

As the economy improves the additional revenue could then be used to pay

down the debt along with increasing the amount of monies for Americans

Social Security accounts and Healthcare Voucher's. If the Economy slows we

will all share in that as well but we must protect ourselves from going

further into debt.

Note I believe it is imperative that the American people have the ability

to Verify everything I represent. I wish to earn your Trust but realize

that once Candidates become Representatives they change. My feet must be

held to the fire and promises kept, we have had too many politicians say

one thing while a Candidate then do something completely different once in

office. I believe we no longer have the convenience of time, we are

approaching the point of no return, bold changes must happen and the sooner the better. One Final Note about “Fair Care”

I am convinced that a modification to the current system to balance the

budget is impossible, the opposition Party will have a field Day demonizing

that Candidate/Representative. So in place of the IRS I would prefer the

Fair Tax. There are several reasons but the most important is that I

believe that the Fair Tax will allow Fair Care to provide Health Care

Vouchers to all Americans Constitutionally. I built Fair Care long before

the Supreme Court Ruling. However as a Libertarian I must follow the

Constitution regardless of what the Supreme Court believes and that will

define my Candidacy.

Question 3


One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

I want my candidacy to be one of honesty whenever possible. I am willing to listen to the issues then determine if I have the authority by the powers granted by the Constitution. That is all I can promise.

Question 4


What do you think of the No Child Left Behind Act? What should its future hold?


I apologize, I am not as knowledgeable as I should be to fully answer your

question. I wish to default to answer 3.  

Lawrence Scott (Wri)

Question 1


Why are you running for U.S. senator?


My whole family worked for Obama’s campaign 4 years ago, because we believed he would deliver the changes that he was promising- to “turn climate change around” and “reduce greenhouse emissions”…  And here we are today, two and a half years after the “Citizens United Decision” and Obama himself has changed.  His lack of backbone has resulted in a different posture- bent over backwards, with greenhouse emissions showing major, sometimes record, increases every year of his first term. No plan to reduce emissions by the specific yearly amounts necessary to avoid disaster for our descendants even exists. Obama and Senate democrats are okay with this, they say we’re on the right track. I can imagine our President posing for a photo-op looking out the window of a locomotive, wearing an engineer’s hat and a big smile -- and the track our ‘climate train’ is on will take it directly over a cliff in 5 years. This cliff is called the point of no return by the world’s best climate scientists (Read NY Times April OP-ed “Game Over for the Climate” by NASA’s James Hansen). Both parties have been bought to a standstill.

Question 2

The Affordable Care Act has been a hot issue for sometime and most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the new national health care law. Are you in support of the Act? If so why, and if not why? Give three reasons.

A)  Our President has cemented private insurance companies in place as profit-taking middlemen between you and the doctors, and this will bankrupt our government.
B)  Chief Justice Roberts reminds one of Australia’s National Symbol- able to make an impossible leap of reasoning, holding that our Federal Government forcing us to give money to a private for-profit entity is “a tax”.  Excuse me? A tax might fund our Defense Department who then pays a private contractor to build a new warship for our Navy… but following Robert’s tortured logic, Congress might soon force us to buy a new car from an American auto manufacturer.
C)  Doctors should have been offered reasonable incentives to give it their best, in the form of tax breaks in proportion to the number of patients served.

Question 3


One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

We must derail the coming attempt by Governor Scott and the legislature to pipe water from North Florida* to South Florida.  Taking massive amounts of water from rivers that feed fresh water into coastal estuaries (resulting in a brackish mix that is a key component in those estuary environment’s biological productivity) would be an unmitigated disaster. The attempt to build a North-to-South pipe line will com next year in order to gain South Florida’s vote for Governor Scott.  

*That part of Florida north of the Florida Hydrologic divide- which a subterranean feature that divides North and South Florida along an irregular line stretching from Cedar Key to New Smyrna Beach.

Question 4


What do you think of the No Child Left Behind Act? What should its future hold?

Not answered.

No submission from Connie Mack (Rep), Bill Nelson (Dem), Bill Gaylor (NPA) or Chris Borgia (NPA).

----

U.S. Representative

Philip Dodds (NPA)

Question 1


Why are you running for U.S. representative?

I understand why people are frustrated with politics and might even feel voting can be a waste of time. For one thing, our congressional representatives do not properly represent us, largely due to the influence of money and special interests. Between all the time spent begging for large donations and spent on political party tactics, there is not much time left over for actually doing the people’s business. Congressional votes are influenced by large donors and party mischief, rather than by the people’s interest.

The people need to bring themselves back into the process, but we do not have good plan. I wish to introduce a plan that can be enacted now, without a Constitutional Amendment, and one that the people can trust.

As North Florida’s District 03 U.S. House Representative:

I will not seek nor accept money from lobbyists and special interests. I will owe my job to the voting constituents of North Florida and will not be dependent on anyone but them.

I will offer to my constituents to serve as their Direct Representative. I will ask for them to decide on important issues and will only vote in Congress as directed by them. The people will direct my priorities.   

This kind of positive representation will give the people of North Florida a voice in government.
In mid-August, I will be announcing a Direct Representative website [first of its kind] that will allow North Florida voters vote on congressional bills and priorities.   The Suwannee Democrat readers will be some of the first voters to try out this new voting system.
If North Florida voters would like to be leaders in removing special interest influence and returning to a government “Of, By, and For The People”, then I ask for their support.   

Question 2

The Affordable Care Act has been a hot issue for sometime and most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the new national health care law. Are you in support of the Act? If so why, and if not why? Give three reasons.

Your readers will now understand that my opinion does not matter as much as their opinion. After the elections, I will ask them whether they want me to defend or remove portions of the Affordable Care Act.  
My personal opinion is the Affordable Care Act has been overly politicized by political insiders in Washington who measure success by increases in their own political power.  We should be skeptical of giant new laws that are written with the approval of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists and we should be skeptical of the political opposition. Independent candidates serving as Direct Representatives would remove the politics and the special interests from the equation and would let the people work on resolving problems themselves.
As your U.S. Representative, I will invite voters to a three day assembly so that we can formulate healthcare proposals. Then the proposals will be put a vote of the citizens of North Florida. I will then work in Washington to implement the approved proposals.

Question 3


One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

I am not an expert on water management. I would consult with experts and then put their ideas to the people for a vote.    
We have to be able to conserve our resources and arrange for a vibrant local economy.   These two goals do not have to be at odds.  
One thing we should not do is allow special interests to influence our politicians in one direction or another. That is not a smart way to solve important challenges like maximizing our local economy and the health of our natural resources.  

Question 4


What do you think of the No Child Left Behind Act? What should its future hold?

The important thing is that we keep the focus on improving education. Again, I would put it all up for a vote to the people. It is our school system and our money and our future, so we should not let special interests decide for us. 
No Child Left Behind is the current federal program that measures school quality by testing and standards. The intention is to make sure that school administrations are accountable.
My sense is the NCLB is not addressing the central problems. It tries to mask fundamental problems with testing. 
There might be aspects of NCLB we should keep, but my general sense is we should remove NCLB.   
Rather than being so regimented, placing our children in education factories, we should view school as the place our children spend much of their lives. Why do we install our children in overcrowded, noisy classrooms for 13 years?   
Students need a good environment for learning with teachers that can provide individual attention. Teachers do better working as a team, covering for each other and sharing ideas. Schools should be allowed to experiment and find what works best for them – there should be variety and options.
Here are my three proposals that should be implemented altogether as a grand deal that everyone could agree to:

To make our classrooms a success, the classroom has to have the right foundation. Classes should be small and there should be more than one teacher.     The funding should come from reducing waste and fraud in other areas of the federal budget.

[Let’s increase the number of teachers by 25% - 40% by hiring an additional 1 - 2 million public school teachers. Perhaps many recent college graduates and war veterans? They need the work! This will cost about $60 – $120 billion additional dollars. Let’s take a small fraction of the money that is being stolen by the large too big to fail financial institutions, wasted by poor military budgeting decisions, lost through Medicare waste and fraud, and use that money for smaller classes with two teachers each. As we balance our nation’s budget, let’s make an investment that will transform education, our economy, and the well-being of our children.]

Students should behave in class. We should expect and demand proper behavior. Poor behavior creates a distraction that steals class time away from all students. In exchange for providing small class sizes and providing a tag team of two teachers per class, we should then create the expectation that poorly behaving students will not be allowed to disrupt class. Teachers should be trained on how to demand respect and attention from their students and our schools should give them the tools and authority.   

Let’s give parents school choice. Some of us are afraid that school choice is a way of abandoning certain schools, especially underfunded ones. But if we are willing to add 1–2 million teachers and willing to expect children behave correctly in class and pay respect to teachers, then school choice should be accepted as part of the bargain. Let schools come up with different approaches to education and let parents choose among different schools. Let’s even give parents a private school voucher for each of their school aged children. Why not start with a limited voucher that only covers 30% of the cost of a public school student? That would be better than no voucher system at all. Let’s trust our parents and schools. Let’s rely on the power of choice and freedom. We can do better.

J.R. Gaillot (Dem.)  

Question 1.

Why are you running for U.S Representative?

I am running because people need help. We need a bridge to link individual responsibility and opportunity, because they go hand in hand.

The current congress is pushing for a single agenda; No to everything. They are more concern about infringing on individual rights and flexing their political muscles than helping people.  We must be strong in our conviction; we must never waiver in our commitment to build a better pathway to success, so that all who chooses it can succeed.

Question 2.

The Affordable Care Act has been a hot issue for sometime and most recently with the Supreme Court’s decision in upholding the new national health care law. Are you in support of the Act? If so Why, and if no why? Give three reasons.

I support the Affordable Care Act. I want to improve it and build on it. I am not a big fan of the mandate. But I do support the bill.

Because it allows sick people to get insurance (pre existing conditions)

Children can stay on their parents insurance till they are 26 (giving them time to finish college and getting a job)

50% discount on prescription coverage for seniors in Medicare Part D

Seniors don’t have to split their pills in half now

Question 3.

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

Setting up modern cisterns to catch rain and use it instead of pumping the water out of the “Florida” aquifer... Free Water!  Cistern use will allow you to water your lawns more often... (Green is Good)

We can put 1,300 plus people to work in the district setting up cisterns all over NE Florida, thus saving aquifer water for drinking... A win, win situation.

 We need to stop pumping toxins into the St Johns River..., the Suwannee river and all of the other rivers We need to stop the planned pumping of waste water from Jacksonville to Keystone, Middleburg and Clay Hill area

Question 4.

What do you think of the No Child Left Behind Act? What should its future hold?

Throw it out and start over. We have to first have proper funding, no more unfunded mandates.  Math, Science, standards must be elevated..

Music and Art needs to return to our schools, we need to pay teachers a livable salary, they are an extension of us as parents.

No submission from Ted Yoho (Rep)

----

Circuit Judge - 3rd Circuit


Group 5

Angela Cancio (Wri)


Question 1

Why are you running for office?


With over 26 years of courtroom experience in the areas of civil, constitutional, and criminal law, I believe I have the legal knowledge and practical skills required to make a valuable contribution as Circuit Court Judge for the Third Circuit.  My integrity, fairness, and commitment to justice will help increase public confidence in the judicial system.  It is vital that each individual coming before the court have the opportunity to a just and impartial hearing.  The most vulnerable in our society often have no recourse but a courtroom to be heard.  I am mindful and respectful of this privileged responsibility.
Becoming Circuit Court Judge is a natural progression in my career of public service which allows me to give back to my community.  While engaged in private practice for the past 21 years in the areas of family law, criminal law, civil litigation, dependency and juvenile cases, I previously served as Senior Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida in the Civil Rights Division and as Attorney for the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services.  By appointment of previous Governors, I have also served as member and Chair of the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Legal Advocacy Council for many years.  I handled many pro-bono cases in the areas of family law, dependency, children in need of services, adoptions, guardian advocacy, and senior issues.  I have also volunteered in numerous community activities such as WCTV Call Law program, educational programs, and teen court.

I am accustomed to handling a large volume of work in the very same areas over which a circuit judge presides. I believe that my extensive experience will enable me to promote an efficient administration of justice. If you wish to vote for me on November 6, 2012, as a qualified Write-In Candidate, for Circuit Court Judge, Group 5, the State of Florida will provide on the Ballot, a line for you to write in my last name “CANCIO.” If you would like to familiarize yourself with my qualifications further, please visit my website at www.electcancio.com.

Question 2


What would you like to see accomplished while you are in office?


In order for a fair process to exist in our courts, there must be efficiency and increased understanding of the judicial process.  

One way to achieve this goal may be short, educational, online training videos making the basic aspects of utilizing our courts understandable to litigants.  The Florida Supreme Court recently mandated, effective September 2012, that all court documents filed by attorneys must be done so electronically.  On-line training instruction may benefit the entire circuit. Moreover, a gradual transition toward the electronic availability of all court documents is an advancement that will enhance efficiency.  
Other initiatives that may improve efficiency should also be evaluated such as court referred pre-suit mediation in appropriate civil cases, affording parties an early opportunity to exercise self-determination and reach voluntary solutions to their cases.

Question 3

Which group of prominent figures have endorsed you?


While I am unaware at this time of particular groups that have endorsed my candidacy for circuit court judge, I have received a great amount of individual support and encouragement from citizens and colleagues throughout the seven counties of the Third Judicial Circuit.  Above all else, however, I believe that a judge must be a non-partisan, non-biased, and neutral decision maker, ensuring public confidence in the administration of justice.


Question 4

What is the most significant case that you have worked on as an advocate or judge? (Please don’t say every case is equally important).

In the past 26 years I have worked on a vast number of civil, constitutional, and criminal cases, involving complex litigation and wide ranging issues from wrongful death to civil rights.  I believe each of these cases were of great significance to the community and the State of Florida.   However, one case that stands out in my mind of utmost significance involves two teenage sisters that were living in an abusive environment.  The girls had been sexually molested by their biological father and the mother was unfit for many reasons. The teenage girls’ grandparents came to me wanting to remove the girls from this environment but were discouraged as they had already been informed by several attorneys that in the State of Florida grandparents do not have any legal rights to their grandchildren. Using an unusual approach, I filed a dependency action, something normally done by the Department of Children and Family Services and not private parties.  The end result was that the biological parents’ parental rights were terminated and the children were eventually adopted by family members in a position to provide a safe and nurturing environment. 
This case is an example of one in which those most vulnerable in society rely upon the fair and efficient administration of justice.  The case is also in keeping with my previous legal work affecting children’s rights in the family law context.  As an Attorney for the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, I co-authored a chapter for the Florida Bar Association on Child Support Enforcement.  

Wes Douglas

Question 1

Why are you running for office?


I am running for office because the basic principle of our legal system is confidence in the fairness and integrity of our judges.  Members of our community work for years building solid families, businesses, and careers.  Inevitably, at some point or another, and maybe without any fault of our own, we go through family or business struggles that may end up in court.  When choosing a judge to hear a case so important to you, you must ensure that the judge has the character and integrity to be fair, respect your position, and properly and justly apply the law.  Practicing law in North Florida, I have had the pleasure of being in front of a lot of top-rate, intelligent, and fair judges.  I have the character and ability to meet the demands of justice and I will give each person the respect and attention they deserve.  

Question 2


What would you like to see accomplished while you are in office?

It would be my goal for every citizen to have complete confidence in the legal system.  We must conduct our lives in a manner that inspires confidence in the judge and therefore justice.  While, of course, a judge’s job is to administer justice, which carries with it the inevitable displeasure of certain people, I hope that because of the way I carefully and prayerfully decide each case, the people of this circuit will be confident in our system.

Question 3

Which group of prominent figures have endorsed you?

From my next-door neighbors to people I have met campaigning in neighborhoods; I have been overwhelmed with support and continue to seek the endorsement of every member in the third circuit.  I have not sought out any prominent endorsement, but I have certainly been pleased to receive phone calls, encouraging words, and even some contributions from people who believe in me.  I hope that each voter will ask the hard question, “Does that candidate’s life and character demonstrate a fitness for the responsibility of judge?”  Prominent or otherwise -- I look forward to earning every vote.

Question 4

What is the most significant case that you have worked on as an advocate or judge? (Please don’t say every case is equally important).

I have worked on high-stake business matters and many heated litigations.  Each case has shaped who I am.  The most significant case, on a personal level, was helping a client who was in a physically abusive relationship.  I represented her, free of charge, and assisted her in the legal process of transitioning out of her abusive relationship.  I was able to use the power of the law to help her and her small child get out of danger and transition to a safe life.  Seeing her family and others live and grow together in a better life and knowing that in some way I helped means the world to me.  “Significant” could mean many things to different people; it could mean a large monetary verdict or the representation of high profile clients etc.  However, knowing a family and the community are better because of someone I helped is extremely “Significant”.

****

Superintendent of schools

David Laxton (Rep.)

Question 1


What is your best definition of ‘superintendent of schools’?

To some extent, there is little leeway in defining the position of superintendent of schools. The job responsibilities and duties are defined by the Florida Statutes and the policies of the School Board. However, make no mistake about it, the superintendent is the leader of the school system and he/she reflects the values of the educational community. Also, because we are a relatively small school system, the superintendent should be sensitive to the needs and issues of our particular community and be accessible to students and parents; to school employees; and to the community.

Question 2


Name three qualities a superintendent should possess to adequately perform the duties?


The superintendent should be a LEADER with a VISION of how to create a better environment in which a student can learn and the teacher can teach. 
In order to bring that vision to reality, the superintendent must be HIGHLY ORGANIZED and DETAIL ORIENTED, as well as be able to see the whole picture of what is important and valued in educating our future generations. 
Lastly, the superintendent must be a person who CARES. It does not matter how much experience or education one has unless he/she cares about how well a job is done; be it the bus driver, the teacher, the administrator, or the superintendent.

Question 3


Education budgets seem to continually remain the same while at the same time legislative action continues to mandate more programs, testing initiatives, etc. How do you balance the budget, implement legislative mandates while also protecting the integrity of the classroom?

As your Superintendent, maintaining classroom integrity will be among my greatest responsibilities. In order for our students to receive an “A” level education, our classrooms must be funded to provide a quality teacher as well as quality support and supplies. 
Each school district receives monies from the state as well as local government. I will take advantage of all funding opportunities, provided by the local, state and federal government to enhance our initiatives, which help in providing programs that would not be available to a relatively “tax poor” community. 
As Superintendent, I will be vigilant as to how those limited tax dollars are spent to maintain a balanced budget. Cutting waste rather than cutting teaching positions is a first step. We must provide quality, yet efficient services to our students in all grade levels. 
In addition, having key personnel that are knowledgeable in financial matters and are fiscally conservative is also important to appropriately spend the limited funds received from the various government agencies. 
Maintaining the integrity of the classrooms and supporting programs that will enhance educational opportunities for our students will prepare them for the workforce or higher education. This will be my top priority as Superintendent.

Question 4


Bullying has been a topic in the mass media lately. How do we protect our kids and hold those that participate in bullying accountable?

Bullying (intimidation, harassment, psychological distress) is a very complex issue. The main goal of the school system is to provide a safe environment for the students, whether it is in a physical school setting or in cyberspace. A three-prong approach is necessary. 
#1 AWARENESS by the students and their parents, the faculty and the administration that this type of behavior is wrong and unacceptable. Also, redefining what is bullying behavior is important so that everyone understands that what used to be considered “teasing” or the “boys will be boys” excuse is no longer acceptable. 
#2 REMEDIATION AND EMPATHY COUNSELING is an important step to help young people “feel the pain” of their victims. Parents also can be part of the solution, because many times, the bullying personality is created in the home, mirroring what the child sees or hears at home. Sometimes children bully other students because of their own insecurities. These issues can be addresses through counseling. 
#3 PUNISHMENT would depend on the severity of the bullying or harassment. It might be punishment within the school system or the offense may rise to the level of law enforcement taking action. We, as a society, want to see people punished for their misdeeds, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

Jerry Scarborough (Dem, incumbent)

Question 1


What is your best definition of ‘superintendent of schools’?

The superintendent of schools is, first and foremost, the guardian of every student enrolled in our schools. In cooperation with the school board, we are to provide a safe and caring learning environment at each of our schools. The superintendent is responsible for enforcing rules and regulations, and must carry out the policies adopted by the school board. However, the definition of a successful superintendent is one that believes that each and every child that walks through our doors is capable of developing quality skills that will later allow them to be successful contributors to our community and nation. The superintendent must provide vision, leadership, and promote a proactive culture, and support all school district employees in a manner that provides for needed resources to get the job done. It is with skill, heart, and team that we can continue to create opportunities for the children in our community.

Question 2


Name three qualities a superintendent should possess to adequately perform the duties?

a. The supreme quality for a superintendent is unquestionable integrity. In order to be a leader, one must have followers and to have followers, one must have their confidence. If one’s followers find him guilty of phoniness, and if they find he lacks integrity, he will fail. When leading with integrity, we grow other leaders around us with integrity, and most importantly we help our students to grow in their integrity as future leaders.

b. The second quality for a superintendent is vision. Leaders who are passionate about their organization will create vision. Passion fuels vision and vision is the focus and the power of passion. All effective leaders have a vision of what they must accomplish.

c. The third quality for a superintendent is adaptive leadership. The biggest challenge in education revolves around adaptive problems…another test, new curriculum standards, latest strategies, loss of revenue, and the list goes on and on. A leader’s challenge is that most people are reluctant to change and want every problem solved quickly by those in authority. The superintendent must be able to ask the right questions, provide information, and frame the issue. He must then develop proactive responses to the challenge and be flexible.

Question 3


Education budgets seem to continually remain the same while at the same time legislative action continues to mandate more programs, testing initiatives, etc. How do you balance the budget, implement legislative mandates while also protecting the integrity of the classroom?

Legislative appropriations for education have continued to decline. Total state and local funding in 2007-2008 was $38,527,289 compared to $36,087,830 for 2012-2013.

This reduction in state and local funding has made developing and sustaining a balanced budget extremely challenging over the last four years. As revenues have decreased, unfunded mandates and other fiscal challenges have increased. Still, it is this District’s position and commitment that the integrity of the classroom be protected.

The actions necessary to achieve this goal have often times required difficult and firm decisions to be made. A primary example of these actions was the decision to freeze administrative positions at the District level. This decision resulted in an annual savings of $400,000. This savings was used in the classroom.

Because we have planned ahead and showed fiscal restraint, we have been able to meet the needs of the classroom and keep our employees in the labor force. While many districts experienced workforce reductions, the Suwannee County School District has not.

Though our school district is in better shape than many, we face enormous challenges. I assure you that the School Board and I will do everything possible to preserve the commitments made to our students and to our employees. We will continue to adhere to our principles of financial responsibility.

 

Question 4


Bullying has been a topic in the mass media lately. How do we protect our kids and hold those that participate in bullying accountable?

Bullying has been a major concern to our School Board and me. We have recently implemented a system whereby bullying can be reported online. Parents or a victim of bullying are encouraged to report bullying either by phone, to school personnel, make a report in person, or complete the online bullying form.

Once the bullying incident is reported, the following actions occur:

• Administrators will acknowledge receipt of the report in three school days

• A preliminary review of the incident may be conducted to determine need for the investigation

• If warranted, an investigation will be conducted and completed within 10 days

• Parents of the victim and bully will be notified of the results and the school will take appropriate action

It is in educating and empowering our youth to stand together and to respect one another that we can put an end to bullying.

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School Board District 2

Muriel S. Owens (Incumbent)

Question 1


What do you think the role(s) of an affective school board member should be?


The role of an effective school board member is to set goals for their schools and work toward those goals alongside their superintendent, principals, and administrators checking often too see if progress is being made. Being an effective school board member, you must always believe that every student has the ability to learn and achieve at their own level.

Question 2


How do we make sure our students are given every opportunity available to learn and to ultimately graduate high school? Be specific on certain programs. 


There are so many great opportunities students are given to enable them to graduate.  There are afterschool programs, virtual school, tutoring, and at the Opportunity School credit retrieval programs, also for those students that has had babies and want to continue their education, free daycare is offered, classes are also offered to incarcerated students.

Question 3


Education budgets seem to continually remain the same while at the same time legislative action continues to mandate more programs, testing initiatives, etc. How do you balance the budget, implement legislative mandates while also protecting the integrity of the classroom?


School budgets are spent continuously out the year.  Federal dollars are spent in the order that it is received.  Constantly new laws are being handed down from legislation to mandate more beneficial programs and tests.  Therefore, the budget has to be balanced by a highly qualified finance director with the help of superintendent, board members and administrators.

Question 4


Bullying has been a topic in the mass media lately. How do we protect our kids and hold those that participate in bullying accountable?


Bullying will continue to be a hot topic or “the” topic when it comes to schools. Bullying in itself is all around us, not only among our children at school, but, in some cases, also with adults on our jobs, in our everyday walk in life. We continue to protect our children in school by talking to them about this issue, putting posters around school, having Resource Officers available at every school, letting them know that it is okay to tell on someone when you are being harassed or being made uncomfortable. When the incident is reported or found out, the culprit is handled, no case is left untouched! The student code of conduct book addresses this issue thoroughly. This is why our students and parents need to familiarize themselves with this book.

No submission from Catherine Cason.

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County Commission District 1

Jason Bashaw (Rep)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?


The role of county government is what all government is supposed to do – protect the people, provide the infrastructure needed to facilitate commerce & economic development, and set the course for the direction that best facilitates the previous two. Too often government expands to become a solution unto itself.   Our county government should endeavor to protect any progress we have made economically and not let ourselves regress backward to a weaker economic state.  My role as District 1 County Commissioner will be to listen to the people and then provide leadership as their commissioner through the promotion of policy and advising on process that will accomplish their will. Too often I see micro management and inefficient methodology implemented in pursuit of personal agendas and that’s just bad government. We deserve better and must improve communication between the Board of CC and Suwannee residents.  I hope to focus on forming a goal oriented inclusive vision to set a clear path. If we can do that then it becomes a matter of monitoring progress towards those goals.  

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?

I am in favor of consolidation where appropriate. Being heavily involved in private sector budgeting and accounting within the retail, corporate, service, and farm industries leaner and meaner is always the order of the day.  Consolidation in local government can be a means of creating and maintaining a more streamlined and efficient process to deliver governmental goods and services to Suwannee County residents.  However, before voting in favor of consolidation of any particular department or positions I would require a cost and service benefits analysis be conducted by staff so that both the commission and the public could examine and understand the specific benefits of each potential consolidation.

Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?

It is easy to speak in ambiguous terms regarding the spending of tax dollars while running for office.  Fiscal responsibility has been a bright spot in Suwannee County and I will continue to insist on a balanced budget and remain financially responsible. But here is an area where modernization may generate efficiencies and save the taxpayers’ money.  I feel there may be new ways of working with and managing the financial resources of the county on a day to day basis.  I feel we need to look at both a short and long term capital improvement plan. A fiscally conservative expenditure process must be considered as there may be ways to spend less which would then provide resources for critical services. By increasing revenue through the generation of private enterprise we can meet our NEEDS.  Here are several ways we can limit spending within local government:  Consolidation of services into one location, third party review of county budget, more privatization of government services, and a resource recovery program that depreciates and liquidates assets at the appropriate time before they are virtually worthless.

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

Suwannee County is in a high water recharge area for our Floridian Aquifer.  The Suwannee County Commission has no statutory authority or process through which or by which we can manage withdrawals from the aquifer or the level thereof.  That being said, we should have been doing more.  Now we must make sure the Suwannee Water Management District and the FDEP do their jobs as the statute requires.  Eco tourism and farming are valuable industries within our county.  They also make-up a large portion of the tax base.  Before any changes can be made we must have the proper data in hand to make informed decisions with regard to this important issue. If elected I will make sure our public works department and our planning and zoning department share responsibility for monitoring FDEP and Suwannee River Water Management activities providing regular reports on all water related issues to a coordinator. In turn this coordinator will be responsible for reporting to the board and recommending appropriate policy and action. We can and should insist on appropriate oversight of both groups and could consider legal action to force both the districts compliance and FDEP’s compliance with establishing minimum flows and levels to protect our resource.  We must also facilitate communication on this issue between all parties, especially the public. In other areas of our state and our country problems of this nature have been solved with limited economic impact to all parties concerned.  We should study the process and final actions of these governmental bodies so that we avoid any potential pitfalls that they may have experienced and implement policies that have a history of success in reaching the goal of protecting our water resource. The last thing we need to do is try to reinvent the wheel, failing to draw on the experiences of others.

Question 5
How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

First and foremost take care of our existing businesses.  We must be involved within our state to identify and take advantage of business opportunities that become available to our county. Isolationism has never served a community well. Being in the right place at the right time is a big part of being successful.   Appropriate planning should be insisted on by your elected officials so that land use and infrastructure mach up with our vision for the future and are ready as we grow.  Streamlining and consolidating our Economic Development efforts is another way to ensure positive economic growth.  Bringing all stakeholders together to craft a community wide vision for Economic Development so that “…we the people…” can agree on and support it.  Delegate areas of responsibility as appropriate and facilitate implementation of an Economic Development plan.  Identify and remove any barriers to marketing and acquiring desired industry.  Develop and implement an effective county wide marketing program so all businesses know what is going on economically and can adjust appropriately.  A high quality marketing campaign for potential business prepared by professionals could highlight the many advantages we now have to offer such as the catalyst site, natural attractions, large workforce, low cost of living, Vocational & Technical School, etc.  We should not wait for business to come to us….Let’s pursue and court the types of businesses we want here to show the world our door is open and we really are shovel ready.

Walter Starling (Dem)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?


The role of county government has grown in the last 50 years and has increasingly become more important and complex. County government provides vital public service functions including emergency management services; fire protection; public safety; emergency medical services; comprehensive planning; providing water and sewer services; job creation; economic development; operation of the jail; public record keeping; community recreation; health services; roads; libraries; and public transportation and more. It takes leadership and a will to find solutions to the enormous challenges our county faces and will continue to encounter in the future. I believe the role of the commissioner is to find a sustainable balance to competing funding needs and to foster a thriving business environment while looking out for the health and safety of our citizens.

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?


Consolidation is a very controversial topic in this county. Many years ago a study was conducted looking into the feasibility of combining certain governmental functions. That proposal went nowhere. But today, with the limited funds the county and the city have to work with, there are some services that might make sense to combine to get the most bang for our buck. After all, it is tax dollars that fund both units of government. We all need to be working together for the success and progress of Suwannee County and the towns and cities that comprise our unique community. There are a number of good examples of charter government where the election of constitutional officers is preserved and the consolidation of duplicative services have brought efficiency and cost savings. It is worthwhile to consider this proposal once again.


Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?


I’ll give you an excellent example. Last week, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity brought staff from their office to meet with city and county officials to discuss how best to apply available funding to post disaster needs. Despite the state officials asking for funding priorities in our community, county staff were not at the table. We need to adopt some mechanism to ensure that all of the players are at the table in the future and funding for repairs to roads and infrastructure throughout the county have some meaningful prioritization. We need to ensure that prioritization of funding for needed infrastructure/repairs considers all county projects. Just because one player made it to the table first, shouldn’t mean that the county is excluded from funding opportunities. Effective communication among federal, state, and county and municipal officials is key.  

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?


Water is a basic human need that is essential to our health and survival. Without it our community and the good people in it die. Folks, for too long we have ignored the plundering of our resource. The day has come to call an end to the path of destruction being laid by corporate greed. Our water is disappearing, and with its disappearance our infrastructure is collapsing. Our roads, our homes and our community are suffering the consequences of JEA stealing our water. I am actively engaged in developing solutions to our impending water crisis. As your county commissioner I will fight to make sure water is available for our farmers, for our community, and for our future generations.  

Question 5


How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

Infrastructure is the key. We have to work hard to build a business ready environment in our county. We need to make sure we have suitable roads, access to interstate systems and rail, a trained and ready work force, and land use and comprehensive plan regulations that focus growth to key areas in our community. We need  a sound Vision for our future. We all need to work together to achieve our goals, and to recognize that it requires hard work, persistence, and compromise to bring in new industry. Building a strong foundation will ensure future success in Suwannee County.

 

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County Commission District 3

Jennifer Elizabeth Collins (NPA)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?

The primary role of county government is to be responsive to the needs and desires of its citizens within the margin of state and federal law. This should be accomplished with dedication, intellect and a vision of the future. Through this toil I wish to give more to my community than I take from it.

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?

Consolidation implies a leaner more strategic government. On one hand it could save money and on the other it could mean a reduction of jobs. However; we need to be cautious about consolidations of city and county offices. The difference between a rural community and a township can be numerous. Each has unique needs for government that may be better served by division.

Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?

It is not the role of county government to produce a productive society, but rather to create a safe and healthy climate conducive to personal and collective growth. We have replaced philosophy with politics. The field of politics has many public servants battling for personal gain. Imagine if their salaries are cut dramatically. We would find out who the real servants are.

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

Over a century ago James Craig wrote, “The real Suwannee River does not rise in any part of Georgia. It rises in the highest mountains of the human soul and is fed by the deepest springs in the human heart.” James Craig was from New York. We are the people of Suwannee County. His words should be our mantra. It is our ethical responsibility to educate this community about the uniqueness of our rivers and springs. We have a natural resource unlike any in the world.
The growth we need to encourage does not lie in the realms of exploitation, but rather in the protection and natural majesty of our vital namesake.

Question 5
How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

To become a competitor first you must have something to offer that is as good as or better than your opponent. We need to refresh our vision of success, and define where our best opportunities for growth lie. We need to keep abreast of developing trends within other successful small communities. It is also important to consider that new industry should provide jobs for degree holders as well as technicians.

Paul Gamble (Dem)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?

The county government provides public works,public safety, Parks and recreation etc. through the fourteen departments and five constitutional officers with an approved budget that is made up of our taxes, assessments and fees 

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?

Now is not the time to cut jobs.Everyone just needs to do more than asked and be respectful of each other and that would lead to a more productive workplace. I would like to see a centralized location for the offices in a county owned building and stop paying leases

Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?

Spending reduction and safety- All Department heads need to continue to stay on top of expenses and encourage employees to be productive ,help cut cost and save whenever possible. Safety of the employees and citizens is our number one priority.Everyone goes home safe at the end of the day.

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

Conservation is the best way to protect our water. Our rivers,springs,state parks,and trails need to be showcased on interstate billboards, websites, travel magazines, t.v. e.t.c.

Question 5


How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

We need to aggressively recruit businesses with tax abatement incentives and stress the quality and quantity of a job force that is available. Also must be cautious and research the history of that business to see if they will be there long enough to recoup the counties investment.     

Richard L. “Ricky” Gamble Jr. (Rep)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?

Chapter 125 of the Florida Statutes is the legal description that lays out the duties and responsibilities of the Commission. I believe the role of our County government is to fulfill those duties by tending to our County’s business, providing essential services and safety in the most cost efficient ways possible.  The elected commissioner’s role should be to listen to the citizens, set budgets, and pass ordnances.  Being the people’s voice, controlling the budget, and passing responsible ordnances, we can create an environment that restricts the growth of government and reduces the burdens placed on the tax payers.   

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?

Any time a government can combine an office or position and get the desired outcome for less money then why not.  Whether it is the County combining within its own departments or combining with a city or township and we can make it work, then I’m all in.  With a 56 million dollar budget and tax revenues falling short of where they were last year, it’s only right to reduce spending everywhere we can rather than looking to the tax payer again and again.  For this to work in the best interest of everyone and not become a turf war, those involved have to put aside personal differences and work together.  This can work and will save money.  

Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?

A large part of our 56 million dollar budget, almost 70%, is State mandated expenditures, salaries, benefits, workers comp, property insurance, and utilities.  Another 20% is restricted and unrestricted reserves, so other than going against the State, cutting jobs, or spending up reserves that leaves around 10% of the budget to cut from.  I believe all options should be on the table and think we should start with the 10%.  Consolidation is a great way to save, but I don’t believe that’s where we should stop.  I feel incentives are a great tool as well.  There are many County workers with great ideas that could contribute to saving money and if those thoughts do work and are implemented then that employee should be rewarded for their ideas.  Another step to reducing spending is to review the services supplied by the County to see what levels, if any, can be reduced and still function as intended.  An example of a service that functions at a minimal level would be our trash collection and disposal sites; it runs us about 1.2 million a year.  It’s not the most convenient way to collect and dispose of our garbage, but it gets the job done at a fair cost to the tax payer.  Are there better, more convenient ways to do this? Yes, I am sure there are but at almost double the cost. I believe that all services should be reviewed to determine if it is feasible to reduce or not.  I know some people do not want to hear the word reduce when it comes to services, but with the budget as it is and tax revenues shrinking it is reduce or raise, and I don’t believe in raising taxes. We have to prioritize and look at cutting in some areas so we can maintain quality in others like Fire/ Rescue.  I believe through consolidation, incentives, making difficult decisions on some services and applying a little common sense to the equation we can keep cost down, maintain a balanced budget, and preserve a safe, productive society.

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

First, I would like to see Suwannee River and St. Johns Water Management Districts get on the same page.  We have SRWM placing rules and restrictions on our district while St. Johns WM has not done the same.  I’m not saying that I agree with what SRWM is doing, but the two districts are pulling water from the same aquifer so they should at least enforce the same rules.  Our residents, farmers, and businesses should not have this burden placed solely on them when our neighboring water management district is pumping the same water and playing by a different set of rules.  It’s simply not right.   When attracting growth, we must ensure that it is clean growth and will not have a negative impact on the aquifer.  Hopefully, the two new boards which are the Stakeholder Advisory Committee and F.L.O.W. [Florida Leaders Organized for Water] made up of citizens and local leaders will have some positive input.  More studies are needed to know where our water is going and who is receiving it.  The more valid information we have available to us, the better off we are when making decisions that will impact us for years to come.  With Florida’s population growing, water will remain an important issue. We need to keep educating ourselves on this issue while ensuring everyone falls under the same guidelines.  Our water doesn’t adhere to imaginary boundary lines and neither should our policies.     

Question 5


How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

Right now the County contributes around 57,000 dollars a year to the Council for Progress and has little to no say in what they do.  Something I think we should look at is having the County defund the Council and commit their funds and hiring someone to act as a sales rep for the county creating a development department. This would be similar to what Columbia County is doing.  Most industries have yearly functions or trade shows where they come together in support of the industry.  These shows usually have venders there of all sorts trying to sell their products.  Suwannee County is no different, we need a sales rep that can go where the manufacturing and distributing jobs are and pass out material on our great county, talk to industry leaders, and promote what we have to offer.  Money is the secret to a competitive edge in development.  Tax abatements, land with water, maybe sewer, utilities, and rail service are all part of the package we can offer companies to locate here.  These are great incentives, but without someone to push what we are selling they are just like any other county’s incentives.  We cannot sit back and wait for companies to find us.  We need someone to seek them out, look them in the eyes with a good old hand shake, and tell them we’d love to have them in Suwannee County and here’s what we can offer.    

        

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County Commission District 5

Wesley Wainwright (Rep-incumbent)

Question 1

What are your thoughts on the role of county government?

Our local government should be limited to policy making that facilitates development of the private sector as well as promotion of private property rights.  Secondly, provide essential public functions that are managed as private businesses are.

Question 2

How do you feel about consolidation of governmental offices/positions?

Consolidation is a very common practice in private industry, businesses.  Where accountability, goals and objectives are put into place, an individual can be held to task and much can be accomplished.  I believe that our government can be operated on the same principles as private businesses and with the correct management structure, we can achieve greater performance, production and correspondingly efficiency.

Question 3

How do we keep spending down while at the same time ensuring a safe, productive society?

Essentially, this was answered through the first two questions.  Limiting government involvement in our daily lives, as well as providing essential functions productively and efficiently is the key to keeping costs down.  The catch is to determine what the threshold is for essential services.  For obvious reasons this is a very subjective area.

Question 4

One major issue concerning our area right now is protecting our water. Briefly explain how we protect our vital resource while also using it to attract growth?

Water is the foundation of life.  There’s not enough room in this paper to discuss the importance of water.  Every aspect of our lives and community depend on it.  Therefore, it is the responsibility of everyone to protect water as our greatest resource.  With this type of view we all can work towards developing business and residential growth that is conservatory in nature.  We also need to do all we can to hold Suwannee River Water Management to task.

Question 5


How do we ensure that Suwannee County becomes and maintains a competitive edge for prospects for growth, such as possible suitors for the catalyst site?

Basic building blocks to further economic development should be to one capitalize on all the benefits the county has to offer, which means to not limit ourselves to just the catalyst site.  Two, again the efforts of the County Commission should be welcoming, accommodating, yet not over indulgent.  Perhaps we can combine the comments from the previous 4 questions and I believe that would suffice as an appropriate response to this question.

No submission from Kevin W. Williams.

 

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