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Tom Patton: Why I’m Voting For Art Graham

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Of the candidates seeking to win the 8th District seat in the Florida Senate, my choice is Art Graham. Art, in my mind, will best represent the interests of the district.

Art has been a longtime resident of the district, which to me is important. But more than just living here, he has been a leader who has worked tirelessly for the betterment of his community.

Art knows the issues of the district, and he came up through the ranks. As a member of the Jacksonville Beach City Council, he helped take the Jacksonville Beach oceanfront from rundown, boarded up storefronts and restaurants to a thriving entertainment district drawing thousands of people, creating jobs and generating income for merchants and the city. When the opportunity came to serve the region as a member of the Jacksonville City Council, Art won by a 15 point margin, and was re-elected without opposition. If you’ve heard Art speak you know about “Art’s Chart”, which shows how the property tax millage rate has declined while Art has been a member of the Jacksonville City Council. As a member of the Jacksonville City Council, he has consistently been a proponent of lowering taxes and cutting spending. He has been on the front lines of keeping government running efficiently while the economy has made that increasingly difficult. From parks to road construction to the Beaches Trolley, Art has been a creative problem solver responsive to the people he represents.

Art Graham has the trust of local governments throughout the district. He has the endorsements of dozens of local elected officials past and present from every part of the 8th Senate district. His support is deep as well as wide, and these officials understand that the most effective government is that which is closest to its constituents. They understand that Art has been where they are, and will be able to understand the concerns of local government officials, as well as those of the people he represents in Tallahassee. They also know he understands how mandates from the state can adversely affect local governments, because he’s dealt with it.

But one of the most important things to me really has nothing to do with government. It has to do with critical thinking. A practicing, professional engineer, Art understands that the only way to truly solve a problem is to understand it. My discussions about issues with Art Graham have convinced me that he is a person who will gather information, think things through, and arrive at a conclusion that fits the facts, not one that makes a good sound bite. Those decisions may not always be the most popular, but they will be thoughtfully considered and grounded in facts, not knee-jerk politics.

And that is the kind of leadership we need in Tallahassee. Not leadership that is grounded in the past, but leadership that will face the challenges Florida faces today, and in the future, with the kind of critical thinking needed to arrive at creative, sensible solutions to those challenges. What has worked in the past may not be the right approach to an economy that is vastly different from the days when government was flush and people were coming to Florida at a thousand new residents a day. The district needs a Senator who knows how local governments work to create balanced budgets, dealing with the often unfunded mandates imposed on them by the state. The 8th Senate district needs a representative who knows that the government closest to the people is the most effective, and that the right answer is not always the easiest. From my perspective, that candidate is Art Graham.

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