Interview with City Council Candidate Richard Pait
Richard Pait is a resident of Jacksonville and he is running for city council in the thirteenth district. He is a member of Fruit Cove Baptist Church, and married to Melinda Rutzebeck Pait. They have son. Mr. Pait is chairman of the Southern Oaks Homeowners Association. He is a member of the Duval County Republican Executive Committee, the River City Republican Club, the Young Republicans, and the Republican Liberty Caucus of North East Florida. In a recent interview by the Jacksonville Observer, Mr. Pait told us a little more about himself and why he has decided to run for City Council.
PAIT: I’m a Navy brat with three brothers. I’m a musician who went to University of North Florida then transferred to Palm Beach Atlantic University where I received my Bachelor of Science in Music. As a music teacher I’ve held many different summer jobs and I’ve had the opportunity to experience many different aspects of life. I always went back to teaching music, especially instrumental music, i.e. Band. After two years teaching at Mandarin Middle School I went into congestive heart failure at age thirty-one due to a heart infection. I had my first open heart surgery and gave up teaching to recover so MMS could hire another band Director. I’ve now returned to teaching Band and Chorus at Edward H. White High School. The state wide budget cuts on music have been systematic for the last 10 years. If elected, I will use half of my salary as a city councilman to help several bands and chorus programs with much needed music and supplies. If not me, then who?
OBSERVER: If elected, what would be your top priority once in office?
PAIT: Budget! Get city and county construction costs under control. Fix the unlicensed and unethical contractor behavior in our cities. Home Improvement individuals and companies need to hold themselves to a higher standard.
I’d like to get organized with “Pocket Parks” and get Piers installed so people can have a safe place to fish other than our bridges and overpasses. Jacksonville has a lot of small empty lots at the end of streets that have river access. Small fishing piers can be installed at little to no taxpayer cost for a safe and viable option to fishing in dangerous streets.
OBSERVER: What would your position on the Trail Ridge landfill deal have been?
PAIT: We were going to get sued either way. Bid the landfill. No one has any clue what the technology would be like 10, 20, or even 30 years from today. Some new method of making money from the landfill could be discovered twelve years from now and we would have no way of tapping into that resource. If Jacksonville is going to get sued, then get sued for going out on the limb not staying against the tree and playing safe.
OBSERVER: What can the city do to stimulate growth Downtown? Should that be a priority?
PAIT: You want to stimulate growth downtown? Keep it the center of business for Jacksonville. Make it easier for business owners and customers to conduct their business downtown. Make it less confusing by simplifying the signage and make it less congested by limiting traffic. I would even cut traffic out on a few roads and allow pedestrians have those roads during 11-2 Monday through Friday. I think business growth should be a priority downtown. Residential growth downtown is a whole other ballpark. You have to want to live downtown.
OBSERVER: How much money do you expect to raise to support your campaign? Are you planning to pay the filing fee or try to qualify by collecting petitions?
PAIT: I expect to raise as little money as possible to support this campaign. After the Presidential campaign I firmly believe that people in this country are sickened by the amount of money people waste trying to get into a Public Servant position. I looked back through the years and saw just how much people raised to run for a City Council position and it really bothers me that this kind of money can be thrown around like it doesn’t matter. Nobody is worth $160,000 for a part-time public servant job. It’s insane. Even raising $60,000 is obscene for a $40,000 a year job. To me, it’s a pay to play scam. It’s selling yourself to special interests, big business and other types that want you in so you can work for them. I don’t want that. I want ‘in’ so I can protect my interests and everybody else that believes that our government intrudes far too deeply into their lives. I want to represent sovereign individuals regardless of party affiliation in direct accordance to the Constitution with dignity, honor, equality, and integrity. Those have nothing to do with money and you can’t put a price on them.
OBSERVER: You're seeking to replace current Councilman Art Graham, who is running for State Senate. If Senator Jim King is unable to serve out his term due to ongoing cancer treatment, it's expected there would be a special election for that Senate seat as well as for Councilman Graham's seat. Are you prepared for the possibility and what kind of a campaign organization are you putting into place?
PAIT: I am prepared for a “ground and pound” campaign which is why I’ve been collecting petitions. I also have an email list of about 80 volunteers willing to walk door to door and phone bank for me to make sure the message of “Stop the Hate” gets out loud and clear. I have another 40+ volunteers willing to mail, stamp, lick, fold or whatever else is needed to make sure a person with common sense has a shot at making a positive influence in Jacksonville. I have to live on a budget, so should government.
OBSERVER: Which current or past leaders serve as role models for you?
PAIT: Daniel Hannan is one, the Conservative MEP for South East England. He is the author of The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain. His eloquence and conservative leadership is an inspiration! Martin Luther King, Jr. has been an inspiration to me. His stand against hatred and intolerance was incredible. His ability to motivate others to see the same vision of a nation that will judge people based on the content of their character and not on the color of their skin was guided by the hand of God and galvanized a nation.
OBSERVER: On a more personal note, what’s your favorite place to grab a bite to eat?
PAIT: We love going to Tombo’s on Philips Highway next to NAPA. They have the BEST breakfast in the world and their hamburgers are phenomenal! We eat at Moe’s too. My son loves yelling that!
OBSERVER: Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with us, is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
PAIT: I have been waiting patiently for someone to come along and represent me. No taxation without representation. I could no longer wait idly by and HOPE for someone to come along and try to possibly represent me to the best of their ability. I realized that the only person that could ever represent me....is me. If I want ‘me’ represented then I needed to do it myself. It’s not arrogance. It’s accepting accountability for my failure to act in this county. It’s accepting responsibility for my inactions for not standing up when I had the opportunity, time and voice for what was right. It’s personally accepting the blame for allowing liberals the chance to take seats, votes, and money from my family and I never cared enough to stop it or fight back. Well that ends now. I’m fighting back. Consequences come quickly. I’ve cancelled my subscription to DirecTV and I’m in this to win. I told my 7 year old son I’ve been called to duty just as his uncle has been called to duty in the Army. The sacrifices I’m making are Lilliputian in comparison to what my brother is having to make with his family. My son understands. I’m doing what I have to do. If you can find a more qualified candidate to represent me I would be happy to support them. That will take a public debate.
Those wishing to learn more about Richard Pait and his run for Jacksonville City Council can go to the campaign website, http://www.richardpait.info.