VANESSA BAUGH, Republican
BORN: Norfolk, Va.
FAMILY: Spouse: Don, more than 20 years; four children, ages 38, 37, 25 and 23; 10 grandchildren
EDUCATION: Attended Tidewater Community College
PROFESSIONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Opened Vanessa Fine Jewelry in 1999 and testified before Congress in 2008 on behalf of small business.
FUN FACT: I love to go fishing.
Manatee County has committed $5.1 million through 2018 to subsidize expected new-job creation among Manatee businesses. What is your position on spending tax dollars to subsidize private business?
I do not believe in government being involved in business decisions. Government should get out of the way and let entrepreneurs do their thing.
That being said, with so many people out of work, and business owners trying to hold on and keep their business open, if we can assist business to expand or come to Manatee and create jobs, it is a win-win for everyone.
One of the most important issues right now is getting people back to work, but we must get a return on our investment.
Explain how giving some businesses tax breaks and money in exchange for job creation is morally justified when many longtime, taxpaying Manatee County businesses have never received any government funding?
This incentive is available to qualified applicants in Manatee that are creating new high-wage jobs ($39,750 or higher) and capital investments, either by expanding an existing business in Manatee or by bringing a new business to the county.
Again, this is available to existing companies already in Manatee or new business.
By increasing jobs in the county you help all business. These new employees will have money to spend. They buy homes, groceries, newspapers, etc., so it is good for all. We must realize that times are different than when many older businesses opened.
What steps would you recommend to improve the economic and business climate in Manatee County?
We can improve the economic and business climate in Manatee County by getting people back to work. As the unemployment rate decreases, we will start to see people spending money again. This will help business owners to expand in all areas.
Also, we need to make sure that we do not hinder this by having unnecessary regulations and expenses. In other words, let’s have local government help to get us back on our feet and then get out of the way. This country has been built on blood, sweat and tears. Most entrepreneurs don’t want a handout. We have experienced the most difficult financial times of our lifetime and we should all work together to get through this.
What is your philosophy on the role of the Manatee County Commission and Manatee County government?
I believe the Manatee County Commission is a very important governing body. It basically is responsible for any and all policies involving the health, welfare, safety and quality of life for our citizens.
It is important to find that medium where you govern but still allow people to make decisions on their own.
I don’t think that politics should be involved in the commission. To me it should be a non partisan commission where politics never play a role.
What is your philosophy on taxation? Are you willing to take the pledge of the Americans for Tax Reform not to increase taxes if you are elected?
My philosophy on taxes is simple, keep them as low as you possibly can. Raising taxes is not something that you should ever want to do. I have already taken the pledge of Americans for Tax Reform. I can tell you from my experience as a private citizen and business owner that I don’t want to see taxes increased. It would be wonderful if there was another way to pay for services in this county. However, I know the commission is looking at ways to pay for items that we don’t have the money for with the budget we now have. We are going to have to go line by line and prioritize items by importance and make those tough decisions.
What is your view of population growth and its effects on the county’s economy and quality of life?
I am in District 5 where we know we are going to continue to grow. If we plan growth intelligently, as we have in East Manatee, growth can be a wonderful thing that will help keep our taxes down, and we will have wonderful amenities for our residents and enjoy a wonderful quality of life. We also need to work on the inner core of Manatee and make sure that all of Manatee is all it can be.
Where do you think county government could become more efficient and save tax dollars?
For the financial times that we are in I believe we need to look at all programs and ask ourselves which programs do we have to have right now. We need to make sure we are financing programs that are necessary today. We must have long term plans however, what can we wait another three to five years for. These are very hard decisions because either way, some people are not going to be happy and hence the politics are at play. We also need to have every department in county government make sure there is no duplication.
What is your position on the Tara Bridge?
I am against the Tara bridge for several reasons:
A. Tara Boulevard was not built has a collector road. It is too curving and narrow to handle the increase of traffic that might use it.
B. The intersection of S.R. 70 and Tara Boulevard is already one of the most dangerous intersections in Manatee.
C. The county DOES NOT have the money.
There are several other reasons but these are the most important.
If elected, what do you see as your top three priorities?
My top three priorities are: job creation, economic development and fiscal responsibility.
What is your vision for Manatee County?
I see Manatee as a beautiful place to live, with many different types of communities, and different types of amenities. We will have many different advanced educational institutions and a flourishing business community that will help to keep young people here when they graduate and ready to start their adult lives. We will have the best medical facilities available and will truly be a county that we can be proud of.
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