After the summer of discordance that was Brevard County politics, I was reticent to cover the Fall races. Then I realized that other local media was ignoring the race for the Property Appraiser’s office. So I decided to wade back in.
I met Republican Dana Blickley and Democrat Charlie Sitton on consecutive evenings – one at Cracker Barrel and one at Starbucks. Both were engaging, friendly, and neither really wanted to bad-mouth the other. It was a breath of fresh air.
I asked them each the same questions.
First was, “Why you?”
Blickley stressed her experience and leadership – having worked her way up the food chain and having worked in several departments managing and setting policy. She said she had a more relevant educational experience.
Sitton stressed his experience and leadership – having worked his way up in one department eventually managing 35 people. He said he was so good, he worked his way out of a job as technology overtook people-power.
Advantage: Blickley. She has a more wide-ranging background in the office and her BA and MA in Public Administration certainly will help her dealing with different levels of oversight from the state and county.
I asked them why they were in the political party they were in. They both noted that partisan politics should not play a role in their day-to-day lives in their office.
Sitton said, “Being a government employee is a noble thing. I have always had a desire for public service. I want to make a difference for the taxpayer – help them get exemptions they deserve.”
Blickley said, “I am a conservative when it comes to budgets. I will treat the taxpayers’ checkbook as my own. They should expect it and I should respect it.”
Slight advantage: Blickley. Both had good answers as to why they are who they are. However, in these tight fiscal times, we need to be cognizant of budgets and Blickley has the right political pedigree for that task.
Next, I asked them what their top three priorities are. They answered almost identically: reorganize the office, make sure assessments are fair and accurate, and communicate better with the public and county and state entities.
These are solid priorities – so no advantage here.
Finally, we spoke of the endorsement of Sitton by former boss, Republican Jim Ford. Blickley defeated Ford in the primary after a multi-decade run as appraiser.
While Sitton was not overly enthusiastic about Ford and his reign, he said he believed it would cut into “Dana’s base.” Blickley said, “It will have no effect.”
Ford has baggage. Ford has loyal supporters. Most voters don’t know about either. Four years ago, while the Republicans were winning Brevard’s constitutional offices in a Democrat-leaning year on average 57-43%, Ford almost lost.
So – I guess you can see where I come down. I’ll be voting for Dana Blickley for Property Appraiser. But I might buy insurance from Charlie Sitton. He’s not a bad guy.