Anthony Stamps believes Nassau County government needs more transparency and residents need a voice representing them, so he’s running for the District 5 seat on the Board of County Commissioners.
“I want to bring some transparency to our district,” Stamps said. “I need to bring a voice back that I felt we have lost over the last 20 years. I believe there has been some integrity lost in the seat. People have lost faith in some of the commissioners. They feel their voice is not being heard fairly.”
Stamps and his wife, Michele, live in Callahan, where they’re raising their six children. He was born and raised in the county and has two businesses here, an auto repair shop and a construction company. He said those businesses were born out of necessity and have grown thanks to his business savvy, which he hopes to bring to the county commission.
“I’ve never been handed anything. I’ve always had to work for it,” he said. “I started in 2010 during the economic crash. I was laid off. I almost lost everything I had. I had to figure something out. Literally, one morning I woke up and pulled $20 out of my pocket and said I have to make this happen. I have a family to feed. I called every day for credit and paid everybody daily to establish what I have now. I have taken that (auto repair) business from 10 to over 1,000 customers in 10 years. I can take the information I have learned in the school of hard knocks in the last 20 years of my life and use it on the commission.”
County finances, Stamps said, need the management skills he would bring to the table.
“The first thing I want to do coming into office is look at the books and find waste. We are wasting money,” he said. “I want to find the waste. There are places to apply that money. The ballpark on the west side of the county keeps getting told they can’t do $40,000 worth of drainage improvements but they are fixing to buy an $869,000 piece of land to build a regional park. Who is writing this budget? Whoever is writing this budget is not doing it fair. Who is reviewing the spending?”
Stamps said the people of Nassau County have lost faith in local government due to a lack of transparency and oversight. He believes county government needs reorganization. What made him want to run for county commission is what he believes to be a lack of transparency from his opponent.
“He’s not being transparent about who is backing him,” he said of his opponent, Charlie Gressman, citing “the good ol’ boy network.”
“I think the commission office needs an extreme change of powers,” Stamps continued. “You are using the same people to get behind the same people to use the same people again.
“Look at the Planning and Zoning Board. The members of that board are running for county commission in public seats. One of them is running for supervisor of elections, two are running for county commission. Look at the property owners in Yulee and Fernandina; they have their signs all over their businesses. It’s an extreme conflict of interest. I think there needs to be segregation. I believe a Planning and Zoning Board member should be released of their duties prior to running for public office. It keeps the conflict of interest out. Mike Mullin being the attorney and county manager – that’s the fox guarding the hen. That needs to be two separate offices with two separate people. I believe on our side of the county, people are tired of it.”
County government should not give free reign to developers, Stamps said, and should not be influenced by developers.
However, Stamps does believe the county could work with developers to the betterment of the economy.
“They wanted to bring in the Crawford Diamond to bring industrial jobs to that side of the county, but everybody opposed it,” he said. “They didn’t want that in their back yard. If you look at the positive economic impact that would have brought to the west side of the county, it would have been huge. You need to bring industrial jobs to this county. You can’t raise a family on a waitress’ pay. You are going to have to work with (Nassau County) Economic Development Board and with the developer in a positive way to attract them here, even if you go through impact credits to attract them here. You can give them everything but you are going to have to work with them to bring them into this county.”
Stamps said he believes county government needs change, something he says won’t happen with his opponent: “He is backed by a previous commissioner. There is going to be no change of power. The county’s going to be in the same position with different suits and different faces running it. I can’t sit back and watch this go by.”
Above all, Stamps said he wants to return people’s confidence in county government by working with residents from all parts of the county.
“Right now, the people have zero confidence that the county is going to do right by them. If you take a poll, I believe you would find 75% of the people disgruntled,” he said. “I am going to do what’s right. That’s all I can promise. I’m not going to give you some inflated promises that I fall short of. I’m not going to promise you the post office and give you the stamp. I want to go above and beyond to get the results we need. You have to go across the aisle to do it. I have a personality that can touch both sides.”