It took a bit of searching, but who are the 2024 Fernandina City Commissioner candidates? Here is what I learned by looking at the City’s website.

Seats that are up for election include Seats 1, 2, and 3. City Mayor is also up for election, but that is not normally a contested running.

Seat 1 is currently held by commissioner and Mayor Bradley Bean. He is opposed by candidate Joyce M. Tuten, who is her own campaign treasurer, and a James Tuten is listed as her deputy campaign treasurer.

Seat 2 is currently held by commissioner and Vice Mayer David Sturges. Sturges is being opposed by Genece Minshew who is serving as her own campaign treasurer, and her deputy campaign treasurer Angela Hall.

Seat 3 is being vacated by Commissioner Chip Ross. Christy Kelly is listed as a candidate; she is her own campaign treasurer. Candidate Charles A. (Tony) Morris has withdrawn from the race, but still in the race is downtown businessman Timothy Poynter with Genece Minshew listed as his campaign treasurer.

You can buy your way onto the slate by paying a filing fee of $540.00, or you can qualify as a candidate by turning in 115 valid petitions by May 3rd, a deadline that passed last week.

Who are the 2024 Fernandina City Commissioner Candidates

Bradley Bean (Baby Bean) is the son of Washington Congressman Aaron Bean. Often referred to as the “Bean Machine”, many locals feel the money and influence of Daddy’s political friends will safely see Mayor Bean to another term as commissioner. While Bradley is employed by RYAM, he remains firmly abstained from weighing in on the Ethanol Plant that RYAM plans to build near the river and Gum Street. This is a highly controversial issue among many in the community who claim this new bioethanol production process violates the Fernandina Beach Comprehensive Plan Policy 1.07.12 for Industrial Zoning.

“Policy 1.07.12 Industrial (IN)
g. Heavy metal fabrication, batch plants, salvage yards, chemical or petroleum manufacturing or refining, rubber or plastics manufacturing, OR other uses generating potentially harmful environmental or nuisance impacts shall be prohibited.”

What about Joyce Tuten? Climate Steward Educator, Joyce Tuten is a former chemistry teacher and recent transplant to Fernandina Beach. According to she is a member of Conserve Nassau. A local organization that is on a mission to stop the bioethanol plant. It’s a common reaction we see from many liberals. While she claims to be a fan of bioethanol, a product that will be made by using the waste of tree material that RYAM already has, just don’t build the plant in my backyard. She is also a lover of cats, but is horrified of Amelia Island’s outdoor cats, a natural hunter, who are killing millions of snakes, rats, mice, and rabbits. The slaughtering of lizards, frogs, and birds is shameful and we should all keep our cats as indoor pets only. What about our homeless cats? They need to eat, too. Should we send them to sanctuary cities? Euthanize them? Where does it end? While I’m sure all of her rhetoric is well intentioned, but for me it is too reminiscent of the residents of Martha’s Vineyard and their political beliefs. Remember when the immigrants were taken to Martha’s Vineyard? Yes we love the immigrants, welcome them to our country, lets feed them and give them housing. Oh, but here where we live, lets feed them and put them on a bus to somewhere… anywhere… just, not in my backyard!

Ladies and Gentlemen, in the right corner, we have current incumbent Vice Mayer David Sturges, and in the left corner, oh no, wait… Ladies and Gentlemen, this is amazing, it appears both candidates have pulled their stools to the right side of the ring! Yes, Genece Minshew, who lost two bouts for City Commissioner from the left, she has changed her affiliation and is now a registered republican! As the Chair of Fernandina Pride and someone who openly advocated to make Fernandina Beach a flaming destination for the LGBTQ+ community, she has switched teams before. As many of the folks who have property here, but aren’t really embedded in the community, I have news for you. Amelia Island has always had a large population of same sex couples that have been embraced openly into our little town. The citizens of Fernandina are friendly, and it doesn’t really matter to us who you prefer to sleep with, as long as you are authentic. While Sturges is a developer who is getting richer by the minute, there is no doubt he is a fan of capitalism, property owner rights, and growth. But, when a candidate plays game with beliefs systems by trying to catch a ride on the coattails of republican donations from “Tallahassee”, well, I just don’t see much authenticity there.

With a vacated seat by Chip Ross, we have two candidates in the running. Christy Kelly and Timothy (Tim) Poynter will be going toe to toe for this swivel-seat on the podium.

Who is Christy Kelly? According to the world wide web, Christy LaByer Kelly is listed as a resident of Fernandina Beach, and affiliated with the Republican Party. Tim Poynter, the previous city commissioner who angered many constituents – the last time he was in office – when he coined the phrase, “If you can’t afford to live here, move!” is also a registered republican. At the speed he is buying up downtown parcels, we may soon be renaming the historic downtown, “Poyntersville.” (Is he really involved in the new restaurant going into the pocket park by the coffee shop, or is that just rumor?) Interestingly, his campaign treasurer is listed – on the city’s website – as… ready for this… Genece Minshew. It seems we have a 2-for-1 sale!!! What? Who does she want to win? Are they one in the same? It could be a clean sweep for these two!  Is this really a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them?” Something is smelling fishy in Fernandina Beach and it’s not the Pogey Plant!

Here’s hoping someone, anyone, pays the piper the $540 fee to appear on the ballot before the deadline of May 17, 2024, or we will all be paying the price of special interests to live here! What’s in it for me as a homeowner in the city of Fernandina Beach? I don’t want money spent on the waterfront park. I want to see us maintain and encourage a working waterfront for commercial and residential water activities. I’d like to see my taxes remain stable or go down. I’d like to see more parking downtown and I’m not against a parking garage at the lot next to the library. Petanqué International is welcome on Amelia Island and those courts can be temporarily installed anywhere. Actually, you might see more spectators if the event were hosted at Central Park and the school board property used to park cars. Those competing in the tournament are, in large part, Europeans who would happily walk throughout downtown from either location. I don’t want to see residential density increased. I like to laugh at a good drag show… but in a bar with my over 21-year-old friends. I like to hear music coming from downtown businesses. I prefer to hear children playing and laughing at a public playground, or a festival of arts and crafts supporting a cause. I’d rather hear parents cheering on their kids at a ball game over the sound of generators or race cars near the airport. I don’t want to see any harm come to our endangered wildlife, or homeless cats, by a hasty approval of an ethanol plant. I’d like to see a count of our live oaks actually happen so they can be protected.

So, what’s in it for me at this point in the upcoming election? Not a damn thing!!!