A)  If you had been a commissioner during the vote to expand the Urban Service Area to include the Welaunee Arch (2800 rural acres) north of I-10, how would you have voted? Explain your answer. 

B)  How about the vote to give $27 million of Blueprint money to FSU for stadium upgrades?  Explain your answer.

County Commission
District 1

Terrance Barber

A)

I would have voted against the expansion.  There are a variety of environmental and community economy reasons that the expansion does more harm than good.  Welaunee is the classic example of wealthy campaign donors getting their return on investment from their funded politicians. 

B)

As I mentioned earlier, this issue is one of the main reasons I became a candidate. I would have absolutely voted against the stadium upgrades.  Governmental leaders need to be stewards of the community’s tax dollars. If government had $100 and FSU was asking for $1 that would have been feasible.  But, when government has $5 and FSU is asking for $1, that’s a whole different story . . . and that’s our story today. FSU has other ways to get the money. Government doesn’t. We would have been much better off setting up business development services and programs to support local businesses, especially in impoverished areas with that money. I can only imagine the magnitude of effects on the people, neighborhoods, and businesses if, say, $10,000 grants were awarded to support locally run small businesses with that $27 million. Our priorities are wrong and that needs to change.

Donna Pearl Cotterell

A)

I would have voted no!  We’re spending too much money to convert rural land to urban when we already have too much urban land and residents that need help. The northeast quadrant of Tallahassee and Leon County has received most of the development assistance for too long. They don’t need the development there, especially not with the cost to city and county residents that come with providing urban services far out of town. It’s not right economically, environmentally, or socially.

B)

I would have voted no. This vote was a headscratcher for me because it seemed so obviously wrong to fund the improvements with Blueprint funds and the bonding. Here we have a well-funded university and a strong FSU Boosters funding organization on one hand and on the other, in the very shadow of the stadium, the poorest zip code in Florida. Does that disparity seem incongruous? It sure does to me. We need commissioners to speak to the real and immediate needs of our city and county. In Pinellas County they used a funding source similar to Blueprint to buy land to advance affordable housing and reduce homelessness. We could use more ideas like that in Leon County.

Bill Proctor

A)

I did vote in favor of the expansion.  My view was that this had been in the works since the 1990s, a lot of the planning for the development had been completed and was sound.  It was time for us to act.  Perhaps more importantly, my district is made up of a blue collar workforce.  Welaunee as it develops will need plenty of carpenters, bricklayers, concrete workers, truck drivers, etc.  That’s jobs for my residents.  Those jobs enable the residents to get a home, pay child support, stay out of jail, and do the things that make for productive citizens.  I appreciate the economic development of a tract of that size.

B)

I voted for the funding because I believe in the economic development potential it can bring forth. But, not just in terms of more people in the seats at games and staying in town for a few days. Good facilities, including stadiums, bring the best athletes to FSU.  Some of them may go pro. We’ve seen FSU’s football success generate good economic and social returns from a fair number of its players. Look at Peter Boulware; he employs a lot of people at his car dealership. Warrick Dunn helps people get houses. We have others in town in real estate and other businesses that grow those companies and that means jobs and philanthropy.

Plus, between Jacksonville and Tuscaloosa, there’s only FSU and UF that can pull in 80,000 people to a game. The money from that crowd supports the Title IX female sports as well as the men’s minor sports. The sales tax revenues contribute to a variety of government projects too, including Blueprint projects.

County Commission
District 2

Sabrina Allen

A)

If the expansion wouldn’t have benefited District 2 or the community then I would not have voted for it. Also, if you are going to take something, you have to give something.

B)

I am an Alum of FSU. I graduated from FSU and I love FSU. They are the biggest employer and they bring a lot of money into this town. I could see how FSU’s growth would help this community.

Lynda Bell

Lynda Bell chose not to be interviewed.

Christian Caban

A)

This vote represents a difficult trade-off. We want urban infill vs. urban sprawl.  oo often, urban infill housing gets built as student housing or as housing developments unaffordable to low income residents.  ousing on the edge of town is less expensive, but the cost of infrastructure is high for the general public to bear.  lus, some people prefer to live out of town. I don’t know how I would have voted. I didn’t follow the issue closely enough to get the data I would have needed to make the decision. I consider myself a data-driven person when it comes to decisions like this; there’s no one size fits all solutions.

B)

I would have voted against the funding, but I do have some qualifications on that vote. Like I said earlier, I consider myself a middle of the road candidate. I would have preferred that some compromise been made in the amount of the stadium funding. I’m an entrepreneur; I can appreciate the better financial decision for Blueprint economic development funds would have been to allocate them to help local small and medium sized businesses. However, we did support FAMU stadium improvements and similar funds for TC. I’m not anti-FSU.  FSU is the biggest economic driver in town I would have pushed for the commissioners to come together in the middle on a funding amount for the stadium.

Hannah Crow

A)

I would need to dig into this issue further to know more about it. I would try to find a balanced solution.

B)

This issue also needed balance. Blueprint gave money to FAMU, and FSU is a large part of our economy, and many small businesses are tied to the stadium and football. We need to use the stadium for more than football games. I would have tried to find a different compromise.

Will Crowley

A)

I would have voted “NO” for two main reasons. First, it’s an economic loser for everyone except the property owners and developers, but particularly low-income people. It won’t help the housing crisis we have. The land is too far out of town and the houses will be too expensive Plus, as we know from a good deal of research, the cost of roads and city services in outlying areas do not pay for themselves through the tax revenues the subdivisions generate. Second, if you’ve seen the development in Welaunee to date, you have to be concerned about environmental integrity. The loss of trees, the land disturbance, the stormwater issues, the list could go on, but the fact is that we have land within the urban service area that could be developed to meet our needs for the next 20 years. We shouldn’t have expanded it, particularly in the northeast, for the Welaunee Arch.

B)

As I’ve mentioned, I would have voted against the stadium upgrades. This is what I call an example of avocado toast projects; good for the well-to-do, but not affordable for many middle- and low-income residents. FSU could have easily reduced some of the funding they were putting into the luxury expansion aspects of the project and allocated that money to the safety improvements Blueprint funded. Given the impact of the funding on the economic development funds of Blueprint and the lack of any benefits to a significant proportion of Leon county residents, this was a no brainer to turn down.

Max Epstein

A)

Absolutely not. I think there could have been ways to incorporate some parts of it but not the entire addition. I do think there could have been a solution. I would have much rather spent time on the Southern Action Plan.

B)

I think this is one of the most egregious votes I have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. First of all, we do not have the money, we have not collected it yet. I continue to think about my father and what he would say to me on an issue like this. He would have said, ‘Max, why would you be putting all of this on a credit card?’ Why are we doing this with our tax dollars? We could have done a thousand grants, actually made a difference, and made an impact on the poverty in our community. All of these decisions are driving the cycle of poverty here in Leon County and this has to change. We need to have measurable results and analysis, and focus on our existing neighborhoods.

Manny Joanas

Manny Joanas chose not to be interviewed.

County Commission
District 3

Joey Lamar

A)

The vote for Welaunee expansion was a big deal. I would have voted against expanding the USA, but I don’t think it would have ultimately stopped the growth.

B)

I would have voted against funding FSU. I went to the Commission meeting and spoke against it. Blueprint money was supposed to be for economic development. Voters voted to extend Blueprint funding for economic development, and although we are only 2 years into it, the FSU expenditure has pretty much bankrupted the fund. The funds will only provide between 34-36 jobs–at that price, it’s $800K per job. The job salaries are not going to ever generate a return that justifies the expenditure. During this same time period, Ford Motor Company was looking to create a factory to build EVs. These jobs pay really good salaries. We could have used Blueprint money to make an offer to lure them to Tallahassee. But now we don’t have the funds to incentivize any more job creation in Tallahassee. Many people I talk to are disillusioned about Blueprint and they say they won’t vote for it anymore. Meanwhile, the FSU Boosters raised $100 million and only needed $20 million more at the time they came to the City for help. What was the rush to give them the money? A month after the vote, it was revealed that the State of Florida had a surplus and FSU could have applied for some of that surplus money. FSU is a “self-sufficient school” which means that it doesn’t charge student activity fees because FSU sports make a profit. I have a background in sports journalism and accounting and I understand how the financing works. FSU receives $24 million every year from the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) from revenues from TV deals, etc. That money goes directly to the Athletic Department and the Athletic Department can do what it wants with it. Some of that money could have been used to complete the stadium upgrades. The Commissioners should not have rushed the vote through but should have demanded that FSU explore all of its other options. The Commissioners’ decision eroded public trust.

Rick Minor

A)

I voted for the Welaunee expansion. I wanted to engage citizens and the public and talk with them about the pros and cons. I went to more than 10 charettes [community engagement meetings], more than any other commissioner, and met with ATN, Keep It Rural and Dr. Pam Hall. Without the Master Plan for Welaunee, the landowners would still have been able to build.  For the land outside of the urban service area, they could have developed without sewer. For land inside the USA, they could have developed up to 20 units/acre without any requirement for a Master Plan. They could have sold their land piecemeal, with that land being developed independent of what might be around it. Without a Master Plan, the landowner had the right to do all of that. With the Master Plan that was adopted, there will be staged development so that growth occurs in the southwestern core first and moves out towards the northeast in a very staged way. The Master Plan also guarantees 1,900 acres of green space.  Another reason I voted for it was because I introduced Dr. Pam Hall’s idea for transferred development credits to preserve more open space in environmentally sensitive areas. The Passive Park and the transfer of development credits were important reasons to vote to expand the USA boundary line. With the Master Plan we have a unified plan for that land.  For example, we now have a requirement for a master stormwater plan that incorporates all of that land holistically. We wouldn’t have had that if the Master Plan hadn’t been adopted.

B)

Initially, I supported it because FSU is the #1 economic driver in our community, but I heard from so many people who opposed it and who advanced well-reasoned opinions that I was convinced to change my vote. While fundraising isn’t easy for anyone, FSU can raise the money more easily than most anyone else, including Blueprint. The opportunity cost was too high and there were more pressing needs in our community. At the end of the day, I work for the people who live here and their arguments against it were sound.  The majority convinced me that it was the right thing to do, so I voted NO.

Damon Victor

A)

I would have voted NO. When it happened, it was during Covid and many people could not participate. Online participation was sketchy. The decision was made by lame duck commissioners, knowing full well that new commissioners coming in might have voted differently. Processes felt undemocratic. The decision was a mistake. Including the Welaunee Arch, it added 10 times more acreage to the USA boundary than in the prior decade. It created a lot of financial obligations and liabilities because urban services, water, sewer, roads, and the like would have to be extended and maintained. Ultimately, it would cost more in tax dollar subsidies than it would generate in revenues. A higher portion of the tax dollars could have been better spent elsewhere to revitalize older neighbors and to infill inside the USA boundary. Despite paying the costs, most taxpayers in Leon County will never see any benefit from the Welaunee expansion.

B)

I would have voted against it from the beginning. FSU making the ask was wrong, but the Commission should have had the courage to say NO. Blueprint didn’t even have the money to give them. The City/County would have to borrow the money and pay nearly $7 million in interest, money that is completely non-productive. Taking tax dollars from people who need it and giving it to people (FSU) who don’t need it is clearly wrong. It disturbs me that when the construction work is completed, FSU will actually have fewer stadium seats (several hundred fewer) so it could actually lower the revenues generated. I didn’t accept the explanation that because the Commissioners had given money to FAMU for Bragg Stadium that they were obligated to give to FSU also. Each decision should be judged anew based on its particular facts. Bragg Stadium was about to shut down without help, having a huge negative economic impact locally, whereas FSU was going to have a season regardless. The situations were very different.

County Commission
District 5

Paula DeBoles-Johnson

A)

You need to hear from staff and from the public and then do what’s best even if it makes people unhappy. I think they should have waited and tried to see if there was more common ground.

B)

Absolutely not. The situation between FAMU and FSU was not at all similar and the money could have been put to much better use.

David O'Keefe

A)

I would have voted no. I feel the size of the development is going to have a large, negative impact and will not benefit enough people, especially in light of what we talked about in the Southern Action Plan. I think we are expanding the Urban Services Area in one direction, while we have a “waiting list” of areas to our south that are waiting for improvements. Just because a developer wants to do a big project it doesn’t mean that it should be developed ahead of those areas that have been waiting for improvements.

If we had an agreement for the development of significant affordable and/or income-based housing, as a part of the deal, then it would have been a different situation. When we talk about expanding the Urban Services Area to Welaunee or we do more road development up in the Killearn area that needs it, but doesn’t need it as badly as other areas, and since we have limited resources whenever we say “yes’’ to these we are saying “no” to the southside.

B)

I would have voted ‘no.’  I am one of a few candidates that made clear my opinion before the vote happened.  My full public comment on this is on YouTube and on my website. It’s not that FSU didn’t need it or isn’t a good partner.  It’s where does this rank for highest and best use? The issue was about all the other projects that cannot be fulfilled.

Jay Revell

A)

I probably would have voted ‘no,’ but with conditions. I think I could have gotten to a ‘yes’ if certain conditions had been met.

B)

I would have voted a ‘hard no.’  I would have voted no on all the expenditures that went to our collegiate facilities. 

Dustin Rivest

A)

I would have voted no; I don’t like how City services will be stretched into the County only in one direction.  There needs to be an overall relook of the Comp Plan and in defining Urban Services Areas.

B)

I would have voted to punt the ball and back up.  I don’t see the urgency, so I would have voted no in order to get more time on the issue. I have a bigger problem with how this happened than what happened. I think this has turned into a slush fund. In my company we apply for funding through RFP processes, going up against competition in a process that is completely transparent. I don’t know why this funding wasn’t done that way. When we are funding public policy and/or tax increases, we need to make sure there’s more accountability for the use of the funds, as well as returns on our investments. 

I don’t know why we rushed this vote.  I would like to have seen an open RFP for $27 million and let people and organizations be a part of it.  FSU may have gotten the funding using this process, but it would have been open and transparent.  

I would have said no for now.   We also didn’t have Commissioners negotiating options where a better solution could have been found. 

County Commission
At-Large Group 2

Rudolph Ferguson, Sr.

A)

I would say yes on behalf of the rural areas because services are needed everywhere. Masses of people will be moving here so we need to find the necessary land and space for urban services. Not everyone would be happy with this, but we need to find a way to grow the tax base to provide those services and accommodate those future citizens coming. We cannot tell them not to come. I would have voted yes. My first priority is public service.

B)

I would not have voted for $27 but maybe $10 million. Stadium upgrades should never trump the needs of the people. I understand strong revenue is needed but not for upgrades, renovations would be more appropriate. Return on investment does not come annually but may have to wait at least 10 years. It is more important to help businesses, neighborhoods, everyone coming out of the pandemic to get the economy flowing and help to continue to grow entrepreneurs. Not $27, but I would have made a motion for $10 million because FSU could raise the remaining dollars needed. Focus on citizen concerns first, then possibly revisit. Ensure equilibrium. Never sports first but citizens first.

Josh Johnson

A)

The urban service area is in a robust county. Especially in the Welaunee situation, the number of homes, the lack of research, the amount of money $77-87 million with an average median home price over $300,000 – I would not have voted for it. Equitable communities are essential to me. This issue was a compounding of blasphemies.

B)

Absolutely not. It is a bad investment. The number of permanent jobs at 34-40 for $27 million, and the types of jobs and wages have never really been talked about. During the pandemic we could have invested in so many other things. The community was some 70 percent against it. On its face – this was horrible and dysfunctional, a dereliction of duties.

Nick Maddox

A)

I voted in favor. When you look at the affordable housing and housing stock to be provided, Welaunee will be an amazing community. We are re-looking at how we are growing – not containing that growth. We are a community with a housing shortage, so I am proud of my vote to expand the Urban Service Area (USA) and provide services out there. We will increase the tax base and that money can go to other communities. Win-win.

B)

I voted in favor. FSU and the stadium are part of our economic development driver and good to help maintain (not upgrade). The $27 million will come back in tourism dollars, but also FSU is a good, responsible community partner. We have been talking with the president and other key people to support more student high school programs that help students attend FSU, support for entrepreneur efforts in Frenchtown and other disadvantaged communities and getting more professors in schools. So, we are getting more than $27 million return on investment – it is a way to feed our tax base yielding more tax dollars to be used in other places in the community and we are strengthening a community partnership.

Dominique ('Nikki') Danielle Zumbo

A)

I am very hands-on so I would have to look into plans and drive out there to let you know. I cannot give yeah or nay because when I was working in Southwood, I thought it was done. I see it is a plan from the 90s so I would need substantial research to understand the intent. It looks like an infrastructure program, but I wonder if a lot was never done and if it is being utilized today. There are many GIS resources I learned in environmental studies that can identify good soils, for example. I am not well aware of this project, but it seems there are underutilized intentions designated for urban development without utility services. My question is if there are plans for a restaurant, would anybody utilize it? I would like to see the permits, surveys, and planning papers; ask more questions, drive around, and get more information.

B)

This is the hardest question. Honestly, I would not want to show up or put in an opinion it is so upsetting. FSU does need upgrades. There are public safety concerns, and the restrooms are filthy. As an alum or a guest, I would not want to go back. I imagine many are picking a different college. They need the money – they need to fix things, but FSU does not need any more champions clubs. I would want to be sure that all the money goes to necessary upgrades and repairs. Disability stall doors are broken and thermostats are old. I cannot say nay or yeah – would have to look at invoices and bids to compare reputable companies and ensure that money goes where it should go and that workers are fairly compensated.

City Commission
Seat 3

David Bellamy

A)

My understanding is that we were expanding that for unknown time, future development. I think if we’re going to grow incrementally, for now, then it needs to be for known projects. To just expand because some day we may need it doesn’t seem like the greatest plan. And to be honest, I don’t know if once we expand does that mean now that we have to put infrastructure in?  Such as power lines, roads, sewer for a neighborhood that we don’t know when it will be built. 

I understand that we are going to have to modify the USA in some areas I’m not sure that modifying for something that has an “unknown time of need” was the way to go.

B)

I don’t think almost anybody who voted for Blueprint thought it would go to the FSU Boosters. I don’t think this was a good investment and I would have voted no.  But more importantly, I believe a better leader could have come out of there with a better compromise. The fellow I’m running against didn’t really get worked up about it until the third meeting but by then the solid rocket booster had been lit, it was underway. 

He refused to meet with the president of the Boosters, and when I bring that up he says “why would I meet with him? That would be silly.”  I say that is the whole art of negotiating.  You go to the Boosters and say I’m going to do my best to stop this unless we can come up with a compromise because I think $10 million had been accepted by many in the community as a decent compromise. I would have gone to the Boosters and said I’m going to fight you tooth and nail and you may lose, or we can compromise, and we’ll hold hands and announce it together on the steps (of the stadium).  Who know what we may have been able to achieve? But you can’t achieve anything without talking. 

The only thing we got out of Jeremy fighting it was a hostile workplace complaint.  Now granted it was ruled that the City did nothing wrong but that was by a company hired by the City to tell the City if it were culpable.  Not exactly an impartial group. And they still said Jeremy needs to take a mediator to talk to Pingree. This is not good leadership when you are told that you have to take a mediator with you. The other thing we could have done, and I would have fought hard for, if it’s going to go through let’s at least demand some tangible things in return from FSU. One of these could have been, FSU is getting a psychiatry residency.  We could have demanded that a certain number of those residents work in our underserved areas where we know mental health issues are present but accessibility to mental health care is almost zero.  Things could have been done, but instead we got $27 million gone and $14,000 in fees for a hostile workplace. The short version is “no” but I think a better leader could have gotten a compromise out of it if they worked on it in a constructive way.

Jeremy Matlow

A)

I voted NO for many reasons. A single path for 4,000 acre Urban Service Area expansion seemed insane. Staff provided figures that there already was enough room inside existing space before bringing in Welaunee. So it didn’t pass the first test of “is it time to start expanding”? It also failed the second test of “if we need to expand, how much should we expand?”. It was the 4,000 acres all at once, yet there is no clear guiding principles for this expansion at all.

As to the matter of community engagement… this was railroaded through during an election year. The first vote showed that the majority of the City/County Commissioners were opposed to it. Diane Williams-Cox said she didn’t want to see this come back, Maryann Lindley said that this looked like sprawl. But the behind-the-scenes activities before the next vote showed that the votes needed to carry the issue somehow appeared. The people that carried that vote did not get reelected. It was rammed through in a lame duck session. This was a blatant, disrespectful thing to do to the people of Tallahassee. There are recourses during elections.

B)

I voted NO four times, but this goes back to who is driving the train, the staff or the Commission? A lot of staff in executive positions now were put into place during the reorganization of 2016. The FBI investigations showed that former Commissioner Maddox felt like he hand-selected some of these people who could deliver for the power players within our community. Watching how Doak Campbell played out, he was right. It was absurd that it became an agenda item since no one on the Blueprint Board ever requested it to be on the agenda. The main question to answer is how did this even get on the agenda in the first place. The people of Tallahassee thought they voted on the types of projects, on certain initiatives. We have this staff-led shadow process that gets these things considered.

City Commission
Seat 4

John Dailey

A)

I voted yes. We need to increase housing stock for all price points. Since the Comp Plan in adopted in 1990 we have added over 100K residents while the USA only expanded by 3%. Research shows based on growth estimates for 2045-2050 we need plan for future growth and make decisions on how to grow appropriately to meet the need including building vertically for urban redevelopment and out by expansion of the USA.

B)

I voted yes. We have a $1B tourism economy and university sports are the largest driver of this key economic contributor. I also supported FAMU’s and TCC’s requests for funding. There is a positive return on investment for our support. The money spent for FSU won’t drain our Blueprint economic development funds as suggested. We still have $12M of which $3M is unencumbered. University sports provide needed support to our local business and economy. There is disinformation about the funds provided to FSU. The money Blueprint awarded FSU is not for adding luxury sky boxes it is an investment in needed life-safety and ADA upgrades.

Kristin Dozier

A)

I voted yes. I did so only after the hard-fought battle by ATN/KIR to have more public involvement and to get environmental changes into the Welaunee Master Plan.

Initially, I made a motion to postpone the decision until the commission could have in-person meetings (due to COVID-19). At the next meeting, the commission overturned this decision and the process proceeded. It was a bad decision to push through the process during the pandemic. I fought for more public participation, and felt the Comp Plan amendment/Master Plan was a terrible process. This highlighted some of the challenges with joint decision making especially since the City was the applicant.

B)

I voted no and led the opposition against the decision. We have many infrastructure needs and to set aside 12% of economic development funds for this was a bad decision and did not spend the money wisely. The funds should be spent on projects that support the entire community. This was the most anti-jobs and anti-business decision ever made, and will cost us 1000s of jobs, and impact the small and minority local businesses that need training, and financial support to grow their businesses. This decision was a setback, but we can move forward to expand our economy in a smart and sustainable way.

Michael Ibrahim

A)

I would have asked who will benefit from this expansion?  Is it beneficial to the tax payers?  If not, it would not make sense to do it.

B)

No, I love FSU but I am against spending all the money in this way, when just up the road the neighborhoods need infrastructure and help with jobs and homes.

Whitfield Leland III

A)

I would have voted no, because from what I was hearing from citizens is they wanted to slow down the process and reevaluate the issue. With that many people asking to reevaluate, we should have responded. This would have been a red flag for me. I would vote no because the people of the community said no.

B)

I would have voted no. The pot of money used requires a return on investment, it’s for economic development. There is no ROI for spending the money to create a few jobs, and the community said no. I am not opposed to giving FSU the money but it should have been from a different source. FSU has a social work program and experts, and they are not being asked to help the mental health of the community in return for the investment. The mayor said college sports represents a $1B industry. Why should that take precedence over the needs of our citizens? The money given will bankrupt Blueprint economic development funds for the next 20 years.

City Commission
Seat 5

Shelby Green

A)

I would not have voted for Welaunee Arch because existing citizens are not receiving services and should be the priority. Commissioners are influenced by developers with capital and political influence. We need a commissioner who understands the needs of the existing residents.

B)

I would have voted no on this issue. This project practically bankrupted Blueprint for stadium upgrades that most residents would not be able to enjoy. I would have worked for a compromise funding amount.  

The $27 million could have been better used for developing programs to help businesses regain their footing after the pandemic. Or to install solar panels on business properties to help reduce their utility bills or to help retrofit their businesses with less reliance on ou existing energy system.  This $27 million for FSU was not an equitable return on investment.

Adner Marcelin

A)

I would not have voted for the Welaunee project. I am not anti-development; however, we need to invest in our existing neighborhoods before we develop new ones. To address the inequity in growth and development we need to have the input and participation of neighbors and affected parties. 

I’m in favor of sound urban development.  However, the use of no bid contracts is not acceptable.  The incumbent bends over to developers. 

B)

I would not have voted for the $27 million for FSU stadium upgrades because it was not appropriate to take public economic dollars for the benefit of a special interest. Even when the public was against this and everyday people were not being taken care of, the economic dollars went to a special interest. That $27 million could have been used to benefit the people of the Southside.

Dianne Williams-Cox

A)

The Welaunee Project had been on the books for 30 years, with the expectation of a population explosion in Tallahassee.  And so, I wanted to get in front of that explosion, expanding on the South End of the project, making sure that housing growth was done smartly.  I wanted to be a visionary that helped the city grow smartly. 

The city has professional staff who know about expanding urban service areas. I trust the professionals. I’ve also done research and talked to many people about these kinds of projects and urban growth.

B)

Years ago, there was discussion in partnership with FSU to build a $20 million convention center.  FSU said there was significant pushback on that idea and it was not pursued. Meanwhile FAMU came in and asked to build a stadium in the future. I called the FAMU athletic director and was told that Bragg was going to be condemned and the field house needed repairs. It was felt that this would help the local economy and subsequently $13 million was allocated for repairs rather than building a new stadium in the future. TCC also came in and requested $2 million to expand their ability to bring in sports tournaments.

FSU reiterated the pushback on the convention center, and asked for funding for the stadium for safety concerns and contribution to economic development. Having approved the funding for those two projects I believed it would be hypocritical of me to not fund the FSU project.   

I met with FSU President McCollough and we agreed that the use of these public dollars would ensure public access to the stadium after football season.