Thursday, September 1, 2016

CRB Questionnaire: Ray Porter

Ray Porter

Why do you think you’re particularly well suited for the Charter Review Board? 

I have an extensive 30-year background in local journalism, reporting on county, city, school board, police and fire, state government and much more. I consider myself a strong advocate for local government involvement, having worked closely with the Democratic party, and run for office in 2008 (CRB) and 2014 (Sarasota County Commission).

Do you think the Charter Review Board should be changed from an elected board to an appointed board? Please explain. 
The CRB has been and should remain an elected board, representing and acting as the voice of the citizens, particularly when their local county commissioners are not listening. An appointed board would simply be a subservient, or irrelevant, arm of the county commissioners.

What are three issues that have been suggested for the CRB’s consideration that you feel are worthy of further inquiry? For each one, please explain why you think it’s important. 
First, we need to strongly consider a charter amendment to change the election process for county commissioners and for charter board members, going from countywide voting to single member district voting. I believe this one change would improve local government immensely, making our elected boards more representative of our population and demographics (currently 57 percent are not Republicans, yet every single county commissioner has been a Republican since 1970). Reducing the cost of campaigning, and allowing for grass roots democracy - door-to-door campaigning - would bring a new wave of participants, ideas and officials.  

Second, I would like to see an ethics requirement in our charter - very specific guidelines to be followed by our elected officials (the exact wording to be reviewed and vetted by the board and legal authorities).  

Third, I want stronger protections for the environment to be embodied in our charter. These could take the form of “no fracking” language, as one example.

What is your position on single-district elections? 
I stated that in my previous response.

Do you believe citizen petition charter amendment drives should be subject to a time limit on gathering signatures? 
I don’t think a time limit is even necessary, or desirable. We should always be open to citizen ideas and perspectives - the people should ultimately guide the ship of government, not their elected servants.

Do you believe advisory boards should be subject to a rule that aims to balance them by geography, areas of expertise, and relevant experience in advocacy? (For example, for the Planning Commission, at least one member with experience in advocating for affordable housing.)​ 
Yes - I think that would be a good idea.

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