In the world famous tourist mecca of Cocoa Beach, do residents matter? Incumbent City Commissioner Skip Williams says they do and uses it as his motto and reelection rallying cry. Red and white campaign signs and bumper stickers all over town proclaim “Residents Matter.” But do they, really?
What if two candidates who are heavily backed by the tourism and development lobby win election, knocking Williams out creating a solid majority on the city commission? Local hotel owners and developers spent big last election to seat commercial mortgage banker Ben Malik on the city commission, and now they’re spending large to defeat Williams, who takes no campaign contributions and is self-financed.
What do the special interests want? A more favorable regulatory environment, and big property tax breaks. Hotel owners and Orlando developers want residents to subsidize their commercial projects by granting them special exemptions to property tax reassessments whenever they improve or expand. A local ballot referendum would give this special interest lobby tax breaks it desperately wants, subsidies that residential property owners like you and I will pay for in the form of higher taxes and reduced services.
So, do residents matter? Voters will decide.