On Nov. 8 registered voters of Bradford County will cast their vote for a contested county commission seat.
Lila Sellars, a Democrat, and Chris Dougherty, a Republican, are running for the District 3 county commission seat.
Sellars, who has lived in Starke for the past 30 years,said she prayed about the position long before running. She says the biggest issue facing Bradford county is economic development.
“I think that’s one thing we’re gonna face for a long period of time,” Sellars said. “We need growth in Bradford County… and we have to work hard in order to develop and to feel Bradford County so that we can have more economic development.”
Sellars says she plans to work with local development authority and remains open minding when it comes to working with anyone who wants to help economically develop the county.
Dougherty, who visited Bradford County frequently as a kid, has been living there for 17 years. Dougherty said he had the idea to run for county commission about 12 years ago, but says over the past decade, he’s gained the knowledge and skills he deems necessary. Dougherty works for Causseaux, Hewett, & Walpole Inc.
He says biggest issue facing Bradford County is a lack of budget.
“We don’t have a lot of tax payers here in our county, and we have over the years just depleted the budget that we have,” Dougherty said.
A big environmental issue facing Bradford County is phosphate mining.
Sellars said she wants to have an open mind about the subject and listen to both sides.
“I think we should be open minded and listen to both sides,” Sellars said. “I feel like we need to give the company that has submitted their application a fair chance.”
She also added that the mining company is doing a test run, and if its environmental standards did not hold, phosphate mining in the county would not proceed.
On the other hand, Dougherty say phosphate mining is his biggest environmental concern for Bradford County.
“I that there are regulatory agencies that will oversee and make sure that the process is handled and followed properly,” Dougherty said. “But again I also think that it needs to be more public as far as the actual operation itself.”
He said he wants to make sure phosphate mining doesn’t hinder the water systems in Bradford County.
When it comes to broadband Internet connectivity in the county, both candidates are on the same page: Something needs to be done.
“I think we’re behind as far as the digital divide,” Dougherty said. “Just as of late, we had several incidents where local businesses have not been able to connect to the Internet, and they rely on those services to be able to conduct their business and therefore there’s loss revenue involved and in some cases lost wages.”
He also said it is a big issue for the children in the county who can’t connect to the Internet at school.
Sellars said the county is doing everything it can to improve broadband connectivity.
“We definitely want to do something and improve broadband because we definitely need it,” said Sellars. “Our IT guy is constantly working to see what we can do to better serve the county residents.”