Weekend Thoughts….Coffee Conversations

Bill Flynn speaking at the opening of the new library he had so much to do with improving. Great man!

I’ll probably be at a coffee and conversation event at Buygo for Orlando Avila today, but I’m thinking over some of the issues in this year’s city commission election and the runoff on December 12th.

Both candidates profess love for the community and town, but there is a subtle or perhaps not so subtle difference.   Loving the town as it is today or as it was when you arrived isn’t good enough.  Towns change and evolve, despite efforts to stop change.   We thrive on diversity, so any view of the town without a serious understanding of how Fernandina works and the interrelationships between tourism, industry, residents, environmental resource protection and sometimes short-sighted politicians, will fail.   We live in the best, in my opinion, location on the east coast of Florida.  I love this place, the people and diversity, but I also love something you won’t expect.  I love the change.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” It’s a Wonderful Life – Clarence 1946

25 years ago, I seriously considered moving away from Fernandina.  I felt the pull of greener grass and the pull of a larger world I sometimes felt I missed by living on Amelia Island.   Family, marriage, kids, work, history and momentum seemed to conspire to keep me here and as I matured.  At one point, I felt like George Baily in “Its a Wonderul Life”…trapped in a great place, but at that time in my life not quite recognizing my good fortune.   Later, I began to feel interested in politics and understood the responsibility and influence I had on everyone around me, but also the responsibility.

Time in an area leads toward a feeling of responsibility and ownership, but a conversation I had this morning reminded me of thoughts I had in 2012.   I felt responsible to everyone after being elected.  I immediately felt I was obligated to every voter, not just a few….and wanted to learn as much as possible.  Feeling strongly about an issue is important, but understanding a community changes and compromising to find a balance is good government is what we need in a politician. Maybe this is the wrong word to use, but by compromise, I’m talking about learning, listening and being willing to see a better path when one exists.  There are going to be times when a decision does not lend itself to compromise, but most people looking for elected office should have the humility and common sense needed to learn.   The bigger the ego and the more convinced a candidate feels…or entitled to change directly without any discussion, the worse that candidate will be in the position.

In 2017, I love Fernandina and the opportunity I’ve had to live here.   Seeing a difference you made is incredibly rewarding and this town offers so many opportunities to give back.  Just helping a neighbor, because small towns create relationships, is something unique.  My wife’s aunt moved to a community planned to the Nth degree.  Everything was designed from the ground up.  It didn’t immediately hit me, but I realized no one was needed.  Residents had a fraction of the opportunity to give back anything.  I won’t name the place, but it struck me as an incredibly sterile and boring environment.  Great food, planned entertainment, themed areas….no parking problem and no traffic issues at all, but the most boring place I’ve ever seen.  I enjoy the diversity here in Fernandina, but enjoy being needed and being a part of the community.  This place thrives on people and is interesting because we’re all in the process of building something better.  Do I love the way Fernandina is at this moment in time?  Sure!  I also loved it in 1970 and 1980 and 2000, but I also enjoy being a part of the changes as we evolve.   Fernandina is a journey and community.


Leave a Reply