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November 2004
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US President / Vice President

OK. The biggie. President. And Vice President. First the candidates:

* George W. Bush / Dick Cheney (Republican)
* John F. Kerry / John Edwards (Democrat)
* Michael A. Peroutka / Chuck Baldwin (Constitution)
* Michael Badnarik / Richard V. Campagna (Libertarian)
* David Cobb / Patricia LaMarche (Green)
* James Jarris / Margaret Trowe (Socialist Workers)
* Walter F. Brown / Mary Alice Herbert (Socialist)
* Ralph Nader / Peter Miguel Camejo (Reform)

OK. It is 21:57 UTC. I promised myself I would leave and go vote at 22:00 UTC. So I have no time to write anything. So just a quick summary, then I am out of here…

Peroutka… right wing nut. No way.

Cobb… left wing nut. No way.

Harris… completely off the spectrum. No way.

Brown… Ditto.

Nader… He did a lot of good things on consumer safery, but the complete anti-corporate, anti-capitalist and absolutest nature of his campaign is a complete turn off. Every time I see him on TV I just shake my head. He has turned into a bit of a nutcase and Don Quixote. No, he is not a possibility.

Badnarik… Oh why oh why did the Libertarians let me down. Normally I would vote for them. If they had nominated anyone even vaguely competant this year, they would have my vote. Someone with libertarian principles, but a sense of reality and knowledge of when to be practical instead of idealistic. But no. They go and nominate someone who is on some other planet. So they deprived me of what would have been my vote.

Bush… On a fer issues I agree with him. But very few. He has mismanaged domestic policy in many ways. His justice department tramples on civil liberties. And of course he has completely mismanaged foreign policy. There is no way I could ever vote for W.

Kerry… I don’t really like him. I disagree with him on many things. I disagree with him on more than I agree with him. I do not WANT to vote for him. Florida has no write in option for President. I am unsure of how much I will like a Kerry presidency. But all the other options are eliminated. And although I disagree with him more than I agree… I still agree with him more than anybody else on the ballot… at least the ones that are sane. So, as much as it pains me to do it…

My vote: John F. Kerry / John Edwards (Democrat)

US Senate, Florida

Only two more to go, but I am rapidly running out of time. Just under 3 hours until the polls close, but only just under 2 hours until I have to take Amy to her music lessons. Brandy got through in 15 minutes. But that was during a morning lull. I’ll be going when bunches of people are getting off work. So my lines will be longer. So I have to hurry… Damn them at work for making me actually do work during the work day… OK, Senate:

* Mel Martinez (Republican)
* Betty Castor (Democrat)
* Dennis F. Bradley (Veterans)
* (Write In)

OK. I had hoped to listen to both of their debates off of c-span.org. I missed them when they were on TV. But there is no time. So a quick glance at the sites.

First Bradley… He has a few interesting ideas, and a few bizzare scary ones… basically he is a kook. Next…

Betty Castor… OK, I’m pissed that I am running out of time. This senate race deserves a few hours of analysis. But I’ll skim quickly though her positions. I didn’t really see anything that grabbed me either pro or con in what I saw.

Mel Martinez… His website was hard to navigate and to get to the real policy stuff. And again, I am running out of time. But he’s got stuff about protecting family values, and backing W’s approach on the war on terror, and has closely aligned himself with the W campaign.

I don’t feel I know enough about either of these gusy to make a truely informed opinion. And that is my fault. Should have called in sick from work today to finish my research properly, watch the debates, etc. But my gut reactions are fairly neutral to what I saw on Castor’s site, but some things on Martinez I react to negatively.

So, I’ll make a snap decision.

My vote: Betty Castor (Democrat)

US House, Florida 15th District

Oh my, we’re finally at the national races!!! These are the ones that will actually determine the direction of the country and the world for the next few years. The house doesn’t look like it is extremly likely to switch this year, but where the balance is still matters somewhat. And you never know, there could be upsets. For my house district, the candidates are:

* Dave Weldon (Republican)
* Simon Pristoop (Democrat)

OK, first thing, Pristoop was a Physics major. Big points for Pristoop! Also, looking at his issues list at first glance it looks to me like I agree with him on 17 out of 22. That is 77%. For me, that isn’t too bad. Of course, a large part of that is because a good number of the issues have to do with opposing the W foreign policy. If it was mroe heavily weighted toward domestic issues, my agreement level would surely drop.

Meanwhile, looking at Weldon’s issues page the agreement level is 50 out of 111, or 45%. Much lower. And when you look at the specific items I disagree on, I feel more strongly about them.

I am running out of time, so I won’t look around for more opinions and thoughts and editorials. My decision is made.

My vote: Simon Pristoop (Democrat)

Florida State Representative, 31st House District

OK. Here we go. Getting into the home stretch. Only four more ballot items to decide on. This one is state level, then we have US House, US Senate, and President. I am running out of time too! There are a little under 5 hours until the polls close, and some of that time I have to be at meetings or taking Amy to music lessons, and other things like that. So… lets get to it. The candidates are:

* Mitch Needelman (Republican)
* Gerda Termitus (Democrat)

OK Termitus, you lose points for not having a website. At least not one I can find. Once again I say, PEOPLE, it is 2004! Get on the web!!

The Florida Today summary is useful as always. Just in this forum, Needelman shows a greater breadth and concern over a wider range of issues. Termitus defines herself as a narrow issue candidate (education and health care). But does not provide any information that really defines what she would do to any level of detail, even on those issues. One naturally can not speak too much in such a forum, but it could have been more. A website would have helped here too.

In addition, when you look at Needelman’s site, he uses his incumbancy well. He has a long list of legilsative proposals he has sponsored, most of which look reasonable at first glance. He has the experience, he has the track record, I don’t see anything as an overriding negative…

Florida today agrees in their endorsement. They say, “Needelman’s opponent, Democrat Gerda Termitus, worked in the pharmaceutical industry and is a captain in the Army Reserve. Although she has a sincere desire to serve, she has little knowledge of the issues and is no match for Needelman’s experience. ” Yeah, that is what it looked like to me too.

My vote: Mitch Needelman (Republican)

Brevard County Sheriff

This is the last county level office for me to figure out… The candidates are:

* Jack Parker (Republican)
* Bob Sarver (Democrat)
* (Write in)

This is the first of the races to allow for a write in candidate. but I don’t particularly have anybody in mind that I want to write in, so I won’t.

The Florida Today endorsement is for Parker. In reading both their sites, and the FT editorial, looks like both candidates are quite qualified. Sarver has been flipping back and forth between Republican and Democrat as it suited the time. Which is interesting. Sarver has been undersherriff under the outgoing sherriff, but it looks like Parker has more overall experience, and has the backing of many more police, firefighter, public safety type groups. He seems a bit harsh on some of his prison stands (put the inmates in tents!). But I don’t see anything outrageous with either of these. I think I’ll let the guy the police want to be in charge of the police be in charge of the police. (If there was evidence of major problems in the police force, I wouldn’t, but I didn’t see anything that indicated that…)

My vote: Jack Parker (Republican)

Brevard County Property Appraiser

Which one will say my house is worth the least so I can pay as little tax as possible? (Once I buy a house anyway.) Um… the candidates are:

* Jim Ford (Republican)
* Penny Farrar (Democrat)

As usual there is an endoresment by Florida Today. But this time there is also a Letter to the Editor critizing that endorsement. According to Florida today, Farrar accuses Ford of “wasteful spending, top-heavy management and high error rates “. They say they see no evidence of that though, and point out she was fired from that office a number of years ago.

Hmm. I really don’t know where the truth is here. But reading Farrar’s website some of the charges have at least an air of plausibilty, as does her friend defending her in the letter to the editor.

Plus, I like her signs. Her name is Penny, and her signs have a big picture of a penny. And her slogan is “It Just Makes Cents”. Ha! Can you beat that?

Anyway, I actually have no stong opinion here. But the incumbant has been in the office since 1988. That is a long time. I’m for shaking things up occationally. So…

My vote: Penny Farrar (Democrat)

Oh no. So far I’m 3 for 3 voting for Democrtats on the items that actually have parties. That can’t be good! Usually I’m all over the place on local races! This one WAS close, I could have gone the other way… I almost did… I had written the last paragraph differently then went back to change it right before submitting the post… but in the end I picked Farrar.

Brevard County Tax Collector

Tax Collector? Can we just not have one? Hmm, guess not. So we have to pick someone. The choices are:

* Joan Needelman (Republican)
* Rod Northcutt (Democrat)

Needelman’s site spends most of its time sniping at incumbant Northcutt without giving too much of her own vision, other than she will be better than Northcut and manage things better. She implies that Northcut is a biut corrupt. But reading through the Florida Today Endorsement it lists a lot of positive things Northcut has done, primarily focused on technological improvements and efficency.

Plus, two of the guys here at work when talking about the election , when I said I was trying to figure out some of the local issies like Tax Collector were very positive about Northcutt. “My Man Rod!” said one. I have no idea why really, other than they write checks out to his office and recognize the name, but hey.

Overall it looks like while he has been there a long time, he is doing a decent job.

My vote: Rod Northcutt (Democrat)

Brevard County Commissioner, District 5

OK, this is the first one with parties… the candidates:

* Jackie Colon (Republican)
* Margarita Ilecki (Democrat)

I could not find a website for Colon. Ilecki’s is minimal and doesn’t speak much about the issues, but it is there.

Once again, Florida Today has more information:

Brevard County Commission Endorsements

This contest pits Republican Jackie Colon, who is seeking a second term, against Democrat and political novice Margarita Ilecki.

We endorsed Colon four years ago and again recommend her to voters, but this time with reservations. Here’s why:

Colon sold herself to voters in 2000 as a moderate Democrat. Then, last year, she pulled the ultimate flip-flop, switching parties and becoming a conservative Republican.

Colon says she did it because of her religious beliefs and opposition to abortion. She also said she felt uncomfortable with the Democratic Party’s pro-choice stance. We have the utmost respect for her personal convictions, but her switch raises this question:

Just who is Colon, and what does she really believe in when it comes to the future of Brevard? Often, it’s hard to tell.

She failed a major leadership test when — saying the $4,445 figure was too high — she voted against impact fees for new homes to help pay for more schools to meet the Florida Constitution’s mandate for smaller classroom sizes.

In doing so, she offered no sound solution to a problem that must be immediately addressed. Her choice let down students, parents and teachers who needed her support.

She also backed the county’s manatee protection plan while a Democrat, but now, as a Republican, opposes a small funding expansion of the county’s Environmentally Endangered Lands program to save our resources from the bulldozer.

As a result, she’s against what may be the last chance to preserve the best of what remains of our irreplaceable landscape.

If re-elected, Colon must understand that her job is to make hard decisions for the betterment of Brevard. She can’t hide behind half-measures she knows won’t work to give herself a safe political out.

Parts of her record suggest she has the experience, thoughtfulness and mettle to reach that point, making us hope she’ll live up to the promise she once showed.

Eight years on the Palm Bay City Council gave her excellent insight into the needs of cities. She also spearheaded the first county-city-school summit — a smart move that can result in better communication and planning among civic leaders.

And we don’t question her dedication, care for constituents and involvement in valuable programs, such as working with local churches on youth drug-awareness programs.

Ilecki, a hearing specialist, is a quick study on the issues, but has never held elected office and has been in Brevard only a short time. We hope she seeks a municipal office to gain some experience and stays on the political scene.

But Colon, despite our reservations, is the better-qualified candidate.

I don’t really understand. They spend many paragraphs (I excerpted the whole bit about her) slamming her on many fronts. But then say essentially, “Well, she sucks, but we’ll still pick her.” There is not much information about Ilecki, and she is a novice, but… it sounds like you can’t count on Colon for much of anything. I’ll take the novice Democrat over the not quite sure what she is doing Republican.

My vote: Margarita Ilecki (Democrat)

Florida Supreme Court

The Supreme Court races work in the excat same way as the District Court. On each judge it is a vote on if they should get another six years. The Justices up this time:

* Raoul G. Cantero, III
* Kenneth B. Bell

All the same things I said about the District judges apply at this level as well. Not much info on their positions, because they are not allowed to talk about issues that may come before them. The laywers recommend retention by 80+% in the survey. No major campaigns against either of them or negative information I can find. So like the District Judges, OK, lets keep them.

My votes:

Raoul G. Cantero, III: YES
Kenneth B. Bell: YES

This is the last of the non-partisan positions on the ballot. As I make my way up the rest, there will be Republicans and Democrats (and some other parties). What a shame. I like it when it is just about the individuals. Oh well!

Florida District Court Judges

OK, I feel like I am skimping, but I am also running out of time. I will roll the questions of the five district court judges into one post. In Florida judges are appointed by the Governor, but then every six years have to be voted for “Merit Retention”. That means you get to vote yes or no on each one, to determine if they get another six years. If they are voted out, the Governor gets to appoint someone else. The District Judges up for retention at this time are:

* Vincent G. Torpy, Jr.
* Winifred J. Sharp
* Earle W. Peterson, Jr.
* David A. Monaco
* Jacqueline R. Griffin

OK, the websites just give basic resume stuff. And apperantly judges aren’t allowed to have “real” campaigns where they talk about their views and stuff. And I don’t have the time or resources to actually start going and looking up the case histories for these judges.

In several palces I was able to find summaries of these retention races, and they all looked very similar. Here is a typical one. Basically it gives info on each of the judges and how long they have been in their positions. It also gives a couple of one sentence summaries of a few proiminant cases. It notes that a survey of area lawers showed that all five candidates enjoyed a greater than 80% support rate for retention.

Another article that I found makes the point that since Florida has had this system, there has NEVER been a judge removed by this system. OK…

In thew absence of finding any serious move to remove any of these guys, and nothing I could find with any serious problems with them, I’m OK keeping them all.

My votes:

Vincent G. Torpy, Jr.: YES
Winifred J. Sharp: YES
Earle W. Peterson, Jr.: YES
David A. Monaco: YES
Jacqueline R. Griffin: YES