The issue: Crystal River City Council Seat 1

Our View: Council experience gives Ken Brown the clear edge

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Editor's note: The Chronicle Editorial Board issues endorsements of local candidates. Endorsement decisions are based on multiple interviews conducted with each candidate by the board and staff. Candidates not endorsed by the editorial board of the Chronicle are encouraged to submit a rebuttal to letters@chronicleonline.com no later than Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. All rebuttals submitted prior to the deadline are guaranteed to publish no later than Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Election Day.

Two-term incumbent Ken Brown, 62, and challenger Scott Davis, 64, are vying for Crystal River City Council Seat 1.

Crystal River residents are fortunate to have two stellar candidates retired from successful business careers who have the best interests of the city at heart and a firm grasp of the challenges facing the city.

Their connections to the city are long. Brown and his family regularly visited the city from Pinellas County since 1977 until taking up residency in 2010. Davis’ family began visiting the city from upstate New York in 1961 and relocated to it in 1970.

Their firm grasps of the city’s challenges is rooted in their active involvement in city matters. Brown served on the city waterfronts advisory board before winning his first council seat in 2012 and is now the council liaison to Crystal River Main Street. Davis has served on the city’s planning commission and waterfronts advisory board, as well as being an original member of the community-advocacy group Save Crystal River.

Brown and Davis are mostly in sync on the challenges facing the city.

Both support smart growth that protects the city’s natural resources. Both recognize the need to prepare for the Suncoast Parkway. Both want to minimize the tourist impact on city residents. Both want to remedy the handful of unsightly commercial properties. Both support the Riverwalk completion with grant funding. Both want more emphasis on improving the quality of life for the city’s east side residents.

Although Brown and Davis are mostly in sync on the city’s challenges, their methods differ on a few.

For FEMA code changes, Brown favors the city taking the lead in obtaining grant assistance for residents and pressing legislators to make dwelling standards similar to the less costly commercial requirements. Davis feels there’s little the city can do other than inform residents and waiving permitting fees.

While both seek stronger enforcement of King’s Bay waters, Brown favors annexing it under the city’s jurisdiction to allow local officials to enact uniformed and enforceable laws for boaters. Davis wants the city to create a coalition and continue working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Although both want to eliminate the few blighted commercial properties, Brown favors using the carrot first to entice the errant property owners’ cooperation. Davis wants to use the stick first with fines and liens to get their cooperation.

Given their generally similar viewpoints and few methodological differences, what clearly distinguishes Ken Brown as the best candidate is his institutional knowledge and established relationships with city staff and fellow council members that have been nurtured over the past eight years as a two-term incumbent.

In the interest of maintaining the city’s purposeful direction and the continuity of an effective leadership team with the demonstrative ability to take action, now should not be the time for Crystal River voters to send Seat 1 back to square one.