County Commission At-Large Group 2: Nick Maddox

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 am originally from North Carolina and moved to Tallahassee to attend FSU and played football, both collegiate and then professionally, with several teams including the North Carolina Panthers. I returned to Leon County and since 2010 have enjoyed politics and the opportunities it has afforded me to listen and talk with neighbors and understand neighborhood needs. I live in District 3 and help my neighbors better understand the political process and how to address issues with the city, county, and other governmental bodies.

B) What event(s) led you to run for elected office?

Originally, I saw a space and need for representation. I come from a single-parent family and my mother was drug addicted. There are so many underserved in parts of our county and their voices, opinions, and thoughts need to be heard. During Meals on Wheels in Springfield it hit me hard to see folks living like that. I would like to create communities that all look like Southwood, Killearn, and others in town. Just because you live in a certain zip code, the quality of life for all is key for me and first concern. Now, the need is still there. We still need to improve quality of life and have caring communities for all folks. Don’t drag things down but improve infrastructure and create more affordable housing and decrease crime rate. We’ve been in a COVID recession and need to prepare for more economic recession. I can use my expertise and make sure to continue the progress we’ve made.

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? 

Very familiar. The comprehensive plan is the most important document guiding growth and development and protecting neighborhoods, all three – it is the premier, guiding document. Therefore, I want to be sure to get it right and pick the right consultant. The update and hiring process has been open and transparent and citizens have been involved. As a guiding document it helps us find that sense of compatibility such as protecting canopy roads along with needing to make way for 100,000 people coming in the future. Time is flowing but getting it right is most important. Right is better than quick.

B) What role should citizens have in deciding on growth and development policies for our community?  

I think citizens are a big stakeholder and community engagement is a very good goal to have. Commissioners are representatives, we listen to how citizens feel and balance that with very strategic community-wide needs. I would like to see a balanced menu of how to go about urban infill, suburban areas, and other planning strategies like creating nodes in places like Woodville, Bradfordville, and Fort Braden. We need to hear public outcry – it is part of the process. We make sure we hear from community, consider how we should move, but within policies. We don’t always agree. But we hear from staff, the public, then get on the same page.

3) Process Used to Decide on the Use of Public Properties

What role should citizens and neighborhoods have in deciding on the use of public properties and how do you think that should work, for example at the Northwood Mall site?  

With public assets citizens are an important part of the decision-making process. There are negotiations in processes involving many people. In government we understand the need to balance. Citizen voices and needs are important. They need to be heard and considered.

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 do agree. We can involve not just the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) but also our multimodal transportation plan to make sure neighborhoods are bikeable, walkable, and livable. To ensure sidewalks are wide enough, parks kept up, that all have good quality of life. But are we hearing all the different voices? We need to ask what is desired. All of that is important.

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?  

If you look at what is coming up the next five years, the amount of projects, and the tax dollars being spent – there is a real Action Plan. We just need to continue to stay focused on plans and projects to ensure they are executed in a timely fashion.

5) Commissioner/Staff/Management Roles

What do you see as the appropriate role between staff and the commission in decision making? 

We are a council-manager form of government. Staff make recommendations, we decide. We don’t always have to take those recommendations. Staff give us the info we need to make the best decision. Staff try and help us see the facts, community as well. But no commissioner feels pressure to accept staff or community input. We set policy and staff execute. Commissioners are not involved day to day. Policy is our job.

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? 

Yes, first is affordable housing and looking at how we can create a sense of place among that housing. Not only public assets like the Orange Avenue redevelopment project but more how do we create affordable housing. Secondly – working with law enforcement and our sister governments to address crime through poverty reduction, livable wages, building a trades workforce – these are the real issues that need our help. The sheriff and police are moving forward. Affordable housing and public safety are linked. We need smart strategic growth and ensure that the comp plan identifies where and how we grow, how we manage ourselves, how and what kind of economic development. We need certain types of jobs and know that the help we are giving, the training, is going toward jobs that produce livable wages.

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

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.

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?  

Just know that when neighborhoods need me, I am here. I am a champion of neighborhoods and I look forward to continuing to serve. I appreciate the support.

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