Wednesday, November 02, 2016


St. Augustine Record got it half right. Elect Maggie Kostka and Rose Bailey. Dump ANDREA SAMUELS and RICH O'BRIEN.

RECORD ENDORSEMENT: O’Brien, Kostka for St. Augustine Beach seats

November 2, 2016
St. Augustine Record editorial

There’s something wrong at St. Augustine Beach. Let us be clear. There’s so much right at the Beach. It’s pretty, it’s clean, it’s engaged, it’s got nice neighborhoods and funky-chic businesses. It’s everything many small beach towns might want to be, minus the high drama and consistent silliness surrounding its leadership.

It’s more a soap opera these days. Call it “The Wrong and the Feckless,” “Guiding Fight” or “Days of our Wives.”

It may be that name-calling, in-fighting, back-stabbing and alleged finger-jabbing have become so familiar that residents are anesthetized. But whatever it is, it’s the wrong way to run a city. Its people deserve better.

Incumbent Andrea Samuels faces challenger and political newcomer Maggie Kostka. Samuels was elected in 2008 and has been a member since. She served as mayor in 2014-2015. She’s served on the city code enforcement board and the planning and zoning board prior to the commission. So it was a surprise to our editorial board that the issue generated by the 53-foot hotel was a surprise to her. She says the city has now fixed the issue of the planning board having final say on land use applications, with new rules that give the city commission the last word. But she was on the planning board and knew the parameters of its power. While Samuels has been on the commission through many positive changes over the past year, we found her vision for the future to be lacking direction and specificity. She, along with other city candidates in St. Augustine, point to TDC dollars as a means of pushing ahead priorities such as public transportation. The TDC dollars won’t come, and we know of few if any public transportation systems that run without serious subsidy.

Maggie Kostka is a former school teacher and businesswoman who wants to see more citizen input in city government and parking solutions. But, we also found her focus to be more on problems with city government than actual solutions to city challenges. Both candidates are smart and strong. And we don’t doubt either’s sincerity in wanting the best for the Beach and its people. But Samuels has had a lot of time to work and lead on the issues. And, while this is also indicative of the whole commission, it and she seem to work on stop signs and speed bumps rather than the big picture of land use codes, noise ordinances and long-terms plans and goals. We would think that growth would have been a key issue, but it was not really addressed by either candidate. Samuels has had ample time to take the long view and, from where we sit, has not. In addition, we believe the commission needs a new face who is not a member of the soap opera’s cast. We recommend Kostka for St. Augustine Beach City Commission Seat 1.

Mayor Rich O’Brien is also one of the players in the cast. He’s been on the commission since 2006, and is dead center in the political sniping so much a part of the beach town. However, we can find no reason to consider his opponent, Rosetta Bailey, as a serious candidate. If you believe there’s a circus atmosphere now, Ms. Bailey would undoubtedly become the ringmaster. We recommend voters return O’Brien to the commission Nov. 8.

1 Comment

(edited)4 hours ago
Tom Reynolds
Well the Record got one choice right with the pick of Kostka.

Here is why Rose Bailey is the right choice.
Rose Bailey will be the breath of fresh air that is needed. Rich O'Brien is the cancer on Public input. Cancer slowly eats at away at one's health till treated. The treatment is to vote him out.

1) O'Brien has ordered Public meetings to be held without Public comment, which is against the Rules of the City. Bailey spoke up for more Public input.
2) O'Brien then led the way to stop political free speech outside of City Hall. The only polling place in the County where signs in the ground are not allowed for early voting. Bailey has spoke up for Political free speech.
3) O'Brien has never in all the years he has been sitting on the Commission, done one thing for our City Children. Such as demand the County improve Ron Parker Park bathrooms, ball field, basketball courts, and little kids play area. Rose Bailey has spoken often for the needed improvements and Children s recreation money.
4) O'Brien has never in ten years gotten ONE ETHICS OPINION on any of his votes. To believe that his businesses have never been affected by his votes, would be wrong. Rose Bailey is an Ethical Person.
5) When St Johns County ordered the Branch Library to cut back hours O'Brien refused to demand the hours not be cut. O'Brien proved that he didn't care about the Children and Seniors who are the main users of the Library. Bailey and others have spoken out several times and recently got the Library hours restored.
6) O'Brien is the leader in wanting to install parking meters so residents have to pay twice to park. Bailey is against charging residents.
7) O' Brien is currently using St Augustine Beach Police cars in a voting mailer, which is against the Law. Bailey is a Law abiding candidate.
8) O'Brien has refused to back an employment contract for the position of Chief of Police . This makes the person who is in that position able to be fired at any time. Which in turn is why the Police department can not seem unbiased when investigating crimes by the Politically connected. Bailey is for a employment contract so the Chief of Police can do the job without the impression of being bias.
9) O'Brien until recently has allowed the consumption of alcohol in City Hall by the Beach Civic Association, which the booze was being paid for with tax payer dollars. Bailey and other Residents stopped this along with a strong recommendation by the Chief of Police.
10) O'Brien along with Samuels gave a NO BID contract for $1.oo a year on a city owned property that would bring in $5,000.00 a month in today s market. Bailey and several residents were loudly against this. It was obvious it was done for political favor in return.


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