|Mayor Van Johnson|
To the residents of Apalachicola:
First, I want to thank each of you for the privilege you gave me four years ago to serve as mayor of this great city.
Most of you know me, but for those of you who don’t! I’m a 51-year-old father of five with three beautiful grandchildren, married for the last 30 years to the former Gail Simmons and a county department head with over 29-years of proven service to the Franklin County community. I was born here, raised here, raised my family here, coached your kids in youth league sports here, and chose to stay here out of love of community and a genuine concern and understanding for our people.
As a county department head, my job is to pick up other peoples trash, so I know what it means to work hard every day. As a father of five, I know what it means to struggle to make ends meet and, as a former youth league coach, I know what it means to give back to my community.
Over the last year or so, we have all witnessed the failure of our local banks, homes lost to foreclosure and high unemployment. Because of these unfortunate economic conditions, nothing should matter more than the creation of job opportunities for our struggling families.
From the start of my administration, City staff and your Commissioners joined me in putting forth a course of action that targeted grants, programs, and projects that created over 85 jobs to keep our people working.
Examples include the creation of 35 job opportunities through Project Impact, a $500,000 per year Department of Education-funded after-school and summer enrichment program and over 30 construction jobs through the $1.5 million renovation of the historic Holy Family School into a Senior Citizen Center/African-American Museum.
We also provided support for our business community to sustain jobs by granting them a two-month waiver on a portion of their water and sewer bills because of decreased sales receipts brought on by the seasonal decline in tourist-related traffic.
To help keep our seafood workers, working, we took on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Tri-State Water Wars over the reduction of freshwater flow down the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee/Flint River Basin, freshwater vital to a healthy Apalachicola Bay and a productive seafood industry. That lawsuit has set the basis for equitable freshwater allocations in the river system. And when last summer’s threat to our Bay arose from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, we took BP to task over funding for our protection strategy, and collected more than $100,000, in cost reimbursements from the oil giant.
Therefore, this year’s election isn’t about false promises, hidden agendas, theatrics, or contrived passion. It’s about our families struggling to make ends meet and worrying about where the next paycheck is coming from. It’s about open and honest government that has the ability to represent the interest and needs of all its people: the retired and elderly, working families, black, white, businesses, and children. It’s about... You and I.
Although these are tough economic times with no easy solutions, I will not stop fighting or become distracted from the task of creating jobs to make life better for our families. On September 6, please vote to re-elect me as your mayor, so that you and I can keep Apalachicola working.