By Dawn Krebs
PORT ST. LUCIE - Residents will make their decisions in the November election when it comes to the Port St. Lucie City Council District 4 seat.
The four original candidates were narrowed to two in the August primary, and now Robert Bluestone and Ronald Bowen are facing off against each other.
Hometown News asked the candidates the same questions about their campaign. Their answers are below in alphabetical order.
Hometown News does not endorse any candidates for political office, but instead provides information about each candidate for voters to make an educated decision.
Name: Robert Bluestone
Name: Ronald Bowen
Occupation: President of R.E. Bowen and Associates
Spouse and children: Wife Patricia, sons Eric and Gavin
Q: How long have you lived in St. Lucie County?
Bluestone: I have been a resident of St. Lucie County since 1976, and your neighbor in Port St. Lucie since 2001.
Bowen: I have been a resident of St. Lucie County for 35 years, all in the city.
Q: Why should voters choose you?
Bluestone: With more than 160,000 residents, nearly 1,000 employees, a budget of more than $489 million, a debt of more than $1 billion, a city-wide utilities system and an expansive city center complex, the city of Port St. Lucie has become a large and complex business. My experience as both a senior officer in a large, profitable, complex, publicly traded company and as a senior officer in one of the largest trade groups in Florida would be beneficial as a member of our city council.
Bowen: Based on my background and experience. I hold a degree in business administration. I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corp in 1974. I am a small businessman of 42 years actively involved in the business community. Most importantly, I was first elected to the Port St. Lucie city council in 1992 and served until 2000.
Q: What do you feel are the two most important issues that face the residents of Port St. Lucie?
Bluestone: In our current difficult economic environment, we should emphasize the "economic development" of the loyal, struggling and local businesses already established here that pay taxes and provide employment. The city of Port St. Lucie should create a "local preference program" where local business would be provided a degree of priority in bidding for goods and services needed by the city. Spending tax dollars out of town does nothing to support our local economy.
Secondly, holding our mayor and city council to a high standard of integrity and transparency. Without a stable local government and a positive image, we damage our community both morally and economically.
Bowen: The two most important issues facing the residents of Port St. Lucie are bringing meaningful jobs and employers to the city and protecting our quality of life, which includes safe streets, sensible zoning, recreational opportunities for people of all ages and effective code enforcement.
Q: If you could, what would be the one thing you would change in the city and why?
Bluestone: Get our city government back to its original charge of providing for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. It's time to take a deep breath and focus on the basics: safe neighborhoods, clean parks and roads free of potholes, cracks and bumps. Remembering that "economic development" begins at home.
Bowen: I would change the way the city treats the members of the small business community, the backbone of the local economy. While the city was courting Digital Domain, it not only ignored any type of incentives for the small-business community, but placed added burdens and regulations on them during the height of the recession. The small-business community has become the red-headed stepchild of the city.