LIVE OAK, Fla. — While admitting that there’s a lot of choices available in this year’s election, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson made stops all across North Florida this week.
During a visit over lunch at the 406 on Duval on Tuesday, Nelson addressed a number of topics and answered questions from Suwannee County residents.
“Elections have consequences,” Nelson told those in attendance.
The Democratic senator from Orlando, Nelson is unopposed in the upcoming primary election. In the Nov. 6 general election, Nelson will face the winner of the Republican primary, either Rick Scott or Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente.
“What we see is we’re going to have some real choices coming up in this election,” he said.
“There’s a lot at stake.”
Nelson then addressed Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, before opening the floor to questions.
After addressing algae in the rivers and solar power, Nelson was asked his thoughts on the recently announced plans to create a Space Force as a sixth branch of the military.
Nelson wasted no time in dismissing the idea.
“It’s just, it’s absolutely unneeded and it’s not going to pass,” Nelson said.
When asked about the Russians interfering with elections, Nelson reiterated that with evidence that they were in Florida’s records in 2016, one must assume they still have access and every precaution needs to be taken.
“I don’t know if Suwannee County is involved, I doubt it,” Nelson said. “What they’re going to do, they’re going to try to find, I would assume, a swing county that they could go in and then alter some records.
“That’s the kind of chaos they want to cause.”
Mayor Frank Davis said while he should probably have more important issues to tackle especially after Nelson was already asked about the environment and the Russians, Davis asked for help in getting a new post office for the city.
“So, we want a post office and a train station,” Nelson said with a laugh.
Nelson then provided a brief update on the possibility of an Amtrak station in Live Oak, He said now that Amtrak is wanting to restart service, an agreement must be reached with CSX in order to utilize the tracks. Only after that will a decision be made on who should get a station.
“I’ve made the argument for Live Oak,” Nelson said.
Nelson also addressed Live Oak Police Chief Buddy Williams’ inquiries as to gun control and Florida’s Guardian Program that arms school personnel.
“A comprehensive background requirement would be a benefit,” Nelson said adding that the current background check has proven to not be sufficient.
He also is not a supporter of the Guardian Program.
“Teachers don’t want it,” he said. “School personnel don’t want it. And in my experience in talking with every SWAT team, they don’t want it because when they storm the school they don’t want to come up on a school personnel with a gun and think he’s the shooter.”
What Nelson does want is to continue pursuing votes in rural North Florida.
He said on earlier stops, he had been asked why was he devoting time in the area.
“The press have been saying, ‘Bill why are you spending time in North Florida? There’s not a lot of votes there,’” Nelson said. “Because I’ve always done well in North Florida. Because I pay a lot of attention to these little counties and have been ever since I was elected as state treasurer and insurance commissioner.
“It’s tougher than it has been in the past but we’ll continue to do well in the little counties. And that’s important as you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to win state-wide.”