By Brian Cronin
Valencia Voice

Florida Governor Charlie Crist spoke at a town hall meeting to address public concerns on Valenia’s Osceola Campus. On Monday night, more than 160 people attended this meeting to address concerns ranging from property taxes, foreclosures, education, and finally to the economy. The crowd was eager to see the Governor and ask their questions but a time constraint allowed for only a few to be heard.

After introductions of the state and local government officials, including Lt. Governor, Jeff Kottkamp, Governor Crist took an informal approach to addressing his constituents. He stepped from behind the podium and walked around the room, illustrating that we are all in it together. His opening comments focused on the unprecedented economic instability Florida residents are all experiencing. He continued to express that even though times are tough and worry is real, the sun will come up in Florida.

Before arriving at Valencia, Crist visited a workforce center in Central Florida to address the growing unemployment rate. He recommended visiting the employ Florida website ( ) as an aid for all residents. Like many others, he is unhappy with the 8.1 percent unemployment rate.

Jerry Lee Jackson, a 44-year resident of Kissimmee, was the first to ask a question. He addressed a concern several attendees had regarding property taxes. “This is a question from my mom, her property taxes have gone from $25,000 to $50,000, why?”

Crist replied that property taxes should not be rising due to the passage of Amendment Two last year, and an appeal to the county regarding such raises can be made. This would allow a new appraisal to be made and taxes to be adjusted.

A part time realtor and native to Florida, asked, “What is the state planning to do to decrease the foreclosure rate?” Crist responded by saying he and other members of the government have asked banks to work out negotiations and free up money so the working class can afford housing. He further asked the public for their help by going to their state senators and representatives to put policy into laws that would specifically address those issues.

The podium was then turned over to the Lieutenant Governor. He fielded an education question from Marion Carrol, a Florida PTA representative, who inquired how the stimulus plan would affect education. He replied by answering, All this has to play out. As an advocate and believer that education is the great equalizer to the economy, he realizes that funding is a critical question.

After addressing a few more questions, the Governor concluded by quoting President Lincoln, “a government of the people, by the people, for the people,” Crist expressed that this is the type of government he wants to be a part of by continuing to be invited to local forums granting him the opportunity to interact with the people who elected him to this position.