Last night, July 8, 2014, several candidates for elective office met the Boca Raton group of the Palm Beach County Tea Party for a candidate forum. Two candidates for Florida's U.S. House District 22 were there along with candidates for the Palm Beach County Commission, Palm Beach County School Board District 3, along with Florida Senate incumbent Maria Sachs who stayed for twenty minutes. There were approximately 35 people in the audience to listen to the candidate's answers to over 15 questions and this was not a debate, however a candidate forum. Palm Beach County Tea Party President and Co-Founder Mel Grossman and his team did a great job hosting the forum.
In fairness to U.S. House District 22 candidates who did not attend, there was another candidate forum happening the same evening in Broward County.
U.S. House District 22
Paul Spain and David Wagie were present; however, Lois Frankel and Andrea McGee for U.S. House District 22 were not. It is too bad the other two candidates were not present, as it would have given the crowd a better understanding where all the candidates stood on a wide array of issues. In fairness to U.S. House District 22 candidates who did not attend, there was another candidate forum happening the same evening in Broward County.
Spain and Wagie agreed on most of the issues and the only two, which there was a slight difference, was when it came to supporting the Second Amendment and they also had a minor difference regarding replacing the current Federal Income Tax system. Both support the Second Amendment for Americans to keep and bear arms and whereas Wagie was hardcore on that right not being infringed upon in any way, Spain seemed to be not as supportive of open carry of firearms.
With regard to the income tax, both support replacement. Spain was supportive of a flat tax of approximately 15% of income that would keep the IRS in place and Wagie wanted to rid the nation of the IRS, replacing the current income tax system with either a flat tax or fair tax. Both candidates were supportive of repealing ObamaCare, opposed Common Core, illegal immigration and on balancing the federal budget. Spain offered the suggestion of freezing all new spending for three years and reducing federal employment pay by 5% for the same three years.
Palm Beach County Commission
Paulette Burdick and Steven Abrams were the only county commission candidates in attendance, even though according Grossman, they were all invited. In fact, they had places set with candidate names printed on cards waiting for others to show up, however they never did. Burdick ran unopposed during the qualification period, so she did not need to show up, yet as she said, it is important for her to hear from the public on important issues. Abrams is running against Andy O'Brien--who was not there.
It seemed Burdick, Abrams agreed on many things, and their number one critical problem affecting Palm Beach County was clean and affordable water. Burdick and Abrams have opposed county tax increases and are supportive of term limits. They did differ on the issue of guns in Palm Beach County. Although Abrams did not elaborate, he said he was supportive of the Second Amendment and Burdick said she was supportive of the Second Amendment as well, but wants waiting periods to purchase guns and insisted on no sales of guns to those with a mental illness.
Palm Beach County School Board, District 3
All three candidates for this position showed up at last night's forum--Karen Brill, John Michael Hartman and David Benoit Mech. Mech started off with an introduction that he leans libertarian and he seemed the most intelligent of the three, however little of his responses to questions during the night seemed libertarian. He was also the only candidate that showed up in shorts and a polo shirt which would get a 'thumbs up' from many a libertarian.
These three candidates did not agree on much, so Palm Beach County School Board District 3 voters have a distinct choice for this race. Both Brill and Hartman are supportive of term limits, yet Mech was opposed even though he admitted he had not spent a lot of time studying the issue.
The issue of national sexuality standards for K-12 was distinct for all three. Mech was supportive of the measure citing several peer reviewed studies showing the benefits while Hartman was strongly against it demanding parents have the ability to opt-out if it was being taught. Brill felt students should only be given the facts and nothing more.
Common core was another hot topic of the evening with Mech in favor and strongly suggested the audience view a video he has on his website to get the facts. Brill was also for common core while Hartman was strongly and unequivocally opposed its implementation.
Another issue of contention and something many seemed not well informed on was regarding the data mining and predictive programming of students. Mech was supportive while Brill opposed the practice and Hartman strongly opposed its use. The goal of the practice is reduce high school drop out rates by identifying students who are struggling to get them extra help before it is too late. The practice is also hotly debated in libertarian circles.
For whom would a Libertarian vote?
Of course we will need to see more of the candidates, however at this point my personal recommendation for Congressional District 22 is between Andrew Leigh McGee and Paul Spain. Since Paulette Burdick has already won her seat by default, so far we will be going with Steven Abrams over O'Brien for County Commission District 4. And I do not have a recommendation for Palm Beach School Board District 3 at this point and look forward to speaking more with the three candidates in this race.