District 3 encompasses parts of Cocoa, Rockledge and Viera. The four-year term pays $10,083.72 per year.
Brevard Times sent a list of four questions to the candidates and asked that the answers be 250 words or under. Answers for Questions 1 and 2 have been combined. The candidates' answers are listed alphabetically.
Question 1: Name the top three challenges that Port Canaveral faces in the next five years and give brief background as to why they are challenges.
Question 2: How will you address these challenges?
Justice:1. Cruise Industry growth. Port Canaveral has embraced the growth potential and now has a challenge to rapidly deliver infrastructure to accommodate this growth. Ensure laser focus on the delivery of new Terminal 1. It's on time/on budget procurement will signal to all concerned the capability of the Port to manage growth and set the tone for next steps.
2. Cargo Industry growth. Port Canaveral wants to embrace the growth potential for cargo but again has infrastructure challenges including the lack of a rail head. Set and monitor realistic expectations for more/diversified cargo capacity based on the steadily improving handling capabilities. Improvements should include on time/on budget cranes, re-consideration of the barge/train option, and maximum effort to get the rail line all the way to the Port.
3. Cove growth. Port Canaveral has an ambitious Cove Development Master Plan. I believe its success is interwoven with regional businesses successes. Is the Port willing and ready to engage? Ensure the growth decisions are based on published policies that are supportive of regional interests. "A rising tide floats all boats."
Sullivan:1. Continuing the close working relationship we have enjoyed with our major cruise lines. We as a port work hard to have a smooth, safe, secure and efficient operation of embarking and debarking their passengers. Happy passengers make happy cruise line executives. Their ships are given easy in and out access to docking, fuel and resupplies. We have just authorized staff to engage contractors to build a new terminal complex on the south side of the port to serve new 6000 passenger ships. We must work diligently to continue that relationship.
2. Diversify our business plan to attract a substantial increase in cargo tonnage. With our soon to be implemented plan on channel widening and deepening, and our new container cranes being installed in 2014 we will be working hard with cargo interest to show the advantage Port Canaveral has to bringing their products closer to their customers. We have recently expanded our staff in the cargo area to work toward identifying and showing our commitment to new potential customers. We must continue our working relationship with NASA to extend their rail to the port. Rail access is a vital part of our cargo expansion. In the interim our inland port concept will be vital to serve customers until full rail access to the port is completed.
3. With a new terminal on the south side of the port and the opening of our new and dramatic Exploration Tower we now need to select a dynamic and experienced developer to take our Cove area expansion to the next level of development. This will serve our community well by bringing new attention and visitors to the Space Coast. All our construction will mean local jobs, jobs, jobs and a reason for cruise passengers – currently at 4 million passengers yearly – a reason to spend a few more days in our area or to come back on vacation. The challenge is continuing to make wise decisions in the Cove expansion. We have the staff on board to give us their knowledge and experience.
Question 3 During the last few years, the port has maintained a substantial positive ratio of revenue against expenses – due mostly to the increase of cruise passengers. As well, the port is a taxing district and could raise additional funds through that. Why – then- does the port seek federal and state grants when the federal debt and deficit are de-stabilizing the economy and the state budget struggles to pay teacher and first responders a living wage?
Justice: Port Canaveral is a regional entity whose economic engine benefits thousands of citizens in and beyond the Port District. Federal and State grants for Port development have been produced for exactly that reason! The "many" outside of this (and all) Port Districts should support the few Ports this nation has. Port Canaveral should not take local tax $ from its District, leaving them for the County and School Board to spend (on teachers/1st responders etc.).
Sullivan: As a commission we operate our port as a public/private business for the benefit of our port district residents in particular, and the residents of Brevard County in general. Our excess revenues are used for supporting bond issues we obtain for capital improvements and to use as matching funds for federal and state grants. Because we have kept expenses below budget and revenues strong while continuing expansion as necessary we have not collected taxes from district residents in 27 years. Our port stakeholders and others in Brevard County send many tax dollars to Tallahassee and Washington. Port Canaveral needs large influxes of revenue to continue to grow our economic impact on Brevard County, which now stands at 2 billion dollars. Our state and federal governments see the wisdom of investing what I call our tax dollars back in successful growth and service opportunities. With our port’s potential for growth and the 17 thousand jobs the port now accounts for I feel it is a wiser investment of our tax dollars than some of the areas on which our government now spends our tax dollars. That said, as we continue to grow jobs, continue to bring millions of visitors to Brevard, continue to grow our economic impact to our county more dollars will become available to strengthen budgets for others.
Question 4. Why should the voters choose you?
Justice: Throughout my Coast Guard career, I learned and espoused the belief that the heart of attaining exceptional performance is setting high standards, coupled with ensuring people have the training and properly maintained equipment to reach those standards. I strive to maintain that philosophy in leadership positions here in Brevard County. My ship commands; federal policy, acquisition, and capabilities knowledge; extensive law enforcement and security expertise; along with participation in numerous trials and congressional hearings, has provided the broad experience needed to help direct the Port Canaveral Authority. I supported thousands of Coast Guard men and women during my military service. I would like to continue public service by applying my uniquely suited experiences while supporting the residents and businesses in Brevard County as one of their Port Commissioners.
Sullivan: As a lifelong resident of Brevard County I have tried to do my part in its growth and development through my business and my years of volunteer service to my community. Over the years I have given back in time and what talent I have to such organizations as the Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Cocoa Village Playhouse, Wuesthoff Memorial Hospital, KBB, 4-H Foundation, Brevard County Fair and my church. Five years ago Brevard County Commissioners honored me with the Jefferson Award for Voluntarism. I was always interested in someday serving on the Port Canaveral Commission. I set some goals for myself. First, I needed my family to approve because I knew that public office put different pressures on family life. Second, my only agenda would be to continue to use best business principles to make our port one of the most productive economic engines for Brevard County ever. Now after one term on the board, one can look at my record and decide whether I have done the job I set out to do. I look forward to another term as we have great opportunities to bring more business, jobs and economic successes to Brevard County and all of central Florida.