James Satcher runs for office.
Name: James Satcher
Family: Wife Monica and five children (a sixth due in October)
Education: Bachelors degrees from Berry College and Rhema Bible College in pastoral studies
Elected government experience: None
Why are you running for this position?
The County Commission has a huge impact on our everyday lives and the quality of life we enjoy as a community. I am raising my family here, so I want it to be a place of great opportunity, beauty, and community. I have been disappointed to see churches denied a reasonable sign permit and small businesses given the run around while developers and mines get permits and variances almost at will. I disagree with Commissioner Whitmore's decision to tear down the monument and with the County Commission's continuous purchasing of vacant land. Recently the County Commissioners voted to rezone a 1 million dollar plot of vacant land for residential development for Pat Neal, then almost immediately bought that same land from Neal for 3 million dollars in order to keep it vacant!
What uniquely qualifies you for this position?
I am a Christian, and Conservative, and a Republican; in that order. People are looking for someone who isn't a career politician, someone with the vision to see this community grow as a safe and enjoyable place to retire or raise their kids. What they have now is a group of people leading from behind. I am blessed to have a college degree and 15 years experience helping people through pastoring a church, reaching thousands in Haiti, and fighting human trafficking here locally.
What do you see as the biggest three challenges Manatee County is facing and how do you propose to address them?
Chronic traffic, over development, and clean waterways are three major challenges. I address the lack of support from the County Commission for law enforcement to keep us safe in the next question. Carol Whitmore has been on the Commission for 12 years. During those years she has led the board with a "reject now, regret later" approach to road projects. This would not be so detrimental to our quality of life if not for the second issue: over development. This current board has approved tens of thousands of new homes in Manatee County without enacting a plan to keep the roads moving and the people safe. As we grow, people will still have to get to the store, to work, and hopefully to the beach. Putting all these big new developments at the end of two lane roads without improving the roads is a recipe for misery. The traffic has become so bad on the island that even Commissioner Whitmore wants to get off of it to avoid the traffic she approved. Third, we need to take real strides to keep our waterways clean. Common-sense tells me the fertilizer mines might be the reason for the algal blooms and resulting red tide. I like the tax revenue and jobs the mines provide, but we have to ask ourselves what the cost is and can we take strides to lessen the damage.
What is your position on the sheriff's request for more deputies and why? If applicable, how would you propose to address this issue?
I believe this is the most important issue we face. Growing the population in the east without giving the Sheriff the deputies he needs for coverage makes it unsafe for the people in the new areas because response times are so high, unsafe for the established communities because the normal amount of deputies they need to keep the streets safe is stretched thin to cover new developments, and unsafe for the deputies themselves because backup is harder to find and farther away. I will move as the new District 6 Commissioner to give the Sheriff ALL of the deputies he has asked for or else enforce a moratorium on all development approvals. We can not as a community afford to lose our safety and security. We should support those who put their lives on the line for us each day.
What ideas do you have for improving county operations or programs?
I would like to see more transparency in budgeting and accounting. Commissioners seem to be given the run around from the administrator when they ask how much money is actually available. I would also like the public comment portion of county meetings to enjoy the same "time certain" status that special guests receive. Currently, the more contentious an issue is the longer the meeting goes before the public gets to weigh in. I would like to see that change out of respect for citizens who take their time to come to the meetings and be heard.
What is your position on raising the millage rate as a way to generate more revenue and why?
I am frustrated that while new houses are paying new taxes, new businesses are paying new taxes, and existing homes growing in value, the county still claims to need a tax increase. Commissioner Whitmore supported special election sales tax referendums in the past. Special elections drive down turnout and deliberately stifle the vote of our snowbirds. I will not and do not support tax increases or referendums on new taxes that avoid the November ballot.
Do you think the county needs more revenue and why? What would more revenues provide residents?
I believe the growing economy under President Trump and the beautiful area we live in will drive the total revenue up without taking a larger percentage from our residents. New taxes hurt those on a fixed income and need to be avoided. Growth in property values and in the economy is the right way to increase our revenue.
Manatee County residents of Longboat Key frequently mention the lack of return they receive on their county property taxes. What is your response to that concern and how would you address it?
Manatee should rise to the challenge of taking better care of its portion of Longboat Key than Sarasota does with the south. Longboat Key's former mayor said he always feels like he gets an attitude from the Manatee County Commission. I think we should take care of the reasonable concerns of a valuable part of our county without any negative attitude.