City Commission Seat 5: Adner Marcelin
1) Interests and Reasons for Running
A) Tell us a little about yourself, where you live, and your involvement in your neighborhood (issues impacting your neighborhood).
I’m an FSU graduate, completed law school out of state. I returned to Tallahassee and in August of 2021 purchased a home in Dry Creek Run neighborhood in the Southside. It’s a mix of renters and owners. I believe in the Southside. I am not on the HOA board. The community watches out for each other, and there is good interaction between the board and the neighbors. I like to go over to meet my new neighbors.
B) What event(s) led you to run for elected office?
I decided to run for elective office because I saw an opportunity to fill the needs of the community. I felt the Southside was ignored, I recognized that city officials do not respond to the people, and do what they want to do rather than what the majority of the people want and need. I believe elected officials serve the will of the people and I saw that wasn’t happening.
2) Comprehensive Plan Update Process
A) Are you familiar with the comprehensive planning process and its role in guiding growth and development, and protecting neighborhoods?
I am familiar with the plan. We need to stick to the plan. Of course we need to protect neighborhoods and we need to invest first in the neighborhoods we have before developing new ones.
B) What role should citizens have in deciding on growth and development policies for our community?
We can address inequities in growth and development by including input from the people and the neighborhoods. Currently the Southside is starving for development. And again, the poor do not have access to the internet, social media, money for the newspaper in order to be aware of opportunities to provide input. We need to go to the people and reach them where they are.
In addition, Tallahassee is home to thousands of college students, a mostly transient population. We need to get their input to identify what it takes to get them to stay in Tallahassee. We need to have plans to transition students into permanent residents.
3) What role should citizens and neighborhoods have in deciding on the use of public properties and how do you think and how do you think that should work, for example in the development of the Northwood Mall site?
Of course, citizens and neighborhoods should have an active role in deciding the use of public properties. Right now, we need a better way to engage citizens in deciding the use of public properties. We need to go to people where they are to get their input, and improve ways to communicate with them.
4) Growth and Development Decisions
A) ATN believes that growth and development decisions are key to making urban neighborhoods walkable, bikeable, and livable. Do you agree? If so, what specifically would you propose to implement these concepts?
I absolutely support those things. We need to provide more sidewalks in neighborhoods, to make them walkable and safe, we need to repair the existing sidewalks that are broken (recently our mayor fell on one of our broken sidewalks) to reduce liability, and provide improved lighting. The City does what it wants to do and is not responsive to the peoples’ needs when developing policies.
B) In your opinion, has the Commission done enough to equitably share tax dollars and guide growth and prosperity generally, and more specifically, to implement the Southern Action Plan? What else should we do to ensure growth is equitable and benefits all of our citizens?
No. More needs to be done. There aren’t any grocery chains in the Southside, we need to address the food deserts in our communities, and provide options for other services and resources to these communities. Eliminating blight and making these communities walkable and safe increases access once resources are available. The $27 million given to FSU could have helped economic development on the Southside.
5) Commissioner/Staff/Management Roles
What do you see as the appropriate role between staff and the commission in decision making?
Currently, City staff dictates what the commissioners do. Staff are not elected. I believe that the staff does the work and there is too much reliance on staff. Staff brings proposals to the commission meetings and commissioners vote on those without bringing new proposals out for discussion. Often commissioners appear to have not read the materials ahead of the meeting. Commissioners need to talk to the citizens, and go to where they are. Many folks in Tallahassee do not have transportation, or access to the internet, to the city television station or to the local newspaper and do not have the opportunity to be informed or to engage with their commissioners. For those who are able to attend commission meetings in person, the allotted 3 minutes is inadequate to present their views.
6) Issues of Interest to Candidate
Are there one or two issues you would like to work on and/or take leadership on as a Commissioner?
There several issues: affordable housing, alleviating poverty in the neighborhoods, ethics and accountability.
With regards to affordable housing, we need to maximize housing opportunities for the benefit of working people. Again, the city commissioners need to be responsive to the needs of the community. We have to make an investment in eliminating urban blight, restoring our infrastructure to restore neighborhoods and communities.
Related to ethics and accountability, if a person or organization has business before the commission for an upcoming vote, they should be prohibited from making a donation to a commissioner before the vote. Or the commissioner should recuse him or herself from the vote. I support ethics laws, using the Judicial Qualifications Committee ethics rules as a model.
7) Votes on Key Issues
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.
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) How about the vote to give $27 million of Blueprint money to FSU for stadium upgrades? Explain your answer.
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.
8) Additional Comments We appreciate you sharing your time and thoughts with us. Is there anything you haven’t had a chance to tell us yet that you would like our neighborhoods to know?
Showing up is the job of a commissioner. The incumbent failed to show up at a Neighborhood Association forum and did not call or give notice of her absence. In an NAACP event, the incumbent stated she would debate her positions. The incumbent was appointed to the Big Bend Continuum of Care and missed more than half of the meetings. As a city commissioner I will show up.
In addition, the incumbent had originally supported $15 per hour pay for city workers, and has since reversed that position.
I have been endorsed by the Big Bend Labor Union and the Tallahassee Firefighters Association.
We need to invest in local folks. Our communication with various constituencies need sto be expanded and improved. For example, I can tell you folks on Alabama and Colorado Streets cannot identify the city commissioners. We don’t reach out to the homeless we could develop resource centers, set up polling stations in communities to identify their issues. These folks do not have access to traditional media or internet services. Communication is a huge problem and we need to increase accessibility for more citizens.
Trust between law enforcement and the community needs to be improved and strengthened.