Porter giving Bryant a run for her money

Jacqueline “Jack” Porter, 27, hopes to be elected to City Commission Seat 1. Photo courtesy tallahassee.com

Jacqueline “Jack” Porter has served in a number of community roles in Tallahassee. Now she is ready to take on a new position, hoping to be elected to Seat 1 on the City Commission.

Porter, 27, received master’s degrees in urban and regional planning and in public administration and policy from Florida State University. She has served as a commissioner on the Leon County-Tallahassee Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, chairing the Economic Security Committee. She also volunteered at Village Square, has been a literacy tutor with the Refuge House and board member with Keep Tallahassee Beautiful.

Porter is running against Commissioner Elaine Bryant and William Moore, who is 19 years old and a student at FSU. Porter’s strong background in education paired with her experience in community leadership, is giving Bryant a run for her money.

Bryant was appointed to the Seat 1 position, following the indictment and removal of former Commissioner Scott Maddox. But now that Bryant is running for election, the competition between Porter and Bryant is heating up.

“I decided to run for this seat because the voters deserve a choice,” Porter said. “This is the first time the people of Tallahassee have had to weigh in since Scott Maddox was removed from office after an FBI corruption indictment, and I believe in a strong democracy at every level of government.”

Porter says she has fresh ideas on how to meet the needs of neighborhoods and communities in Tallahassee. Poverty is an issue that burdens her heart and she hopes to be a catalyst for change on that front.

“In the shadow of some of the wealthiest and most powerful institutions in Florida, neighborhoods like many of those in the 32304 ZIP code experience grinding generational poverty,” Porter said.” Public policy choices have an effect on this year after year, and I will be a strong voice for taking care of our most vulnerable and investing in existing neighborhoods that have been left behind before we subsidize new affluent developments.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to that challenge even more, as unemployment rates in Leon County have skyrocketed since the beginning of this year. According to the Tallahassee Economy Project, as of May 2020, unemployment has had an upward trend of 160.57% compared to last year.

One thing Porter and Bryant agree on is keeping COVID-19 a top priority for city commissioners.

On Tuesday, the Tallahassee Democrat hosted a virtual candidate forum where all three candidates got to state their stances on community issues and express their plans for solving those issues.

Christine Coble with the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee opened the debate by asking what they believe is the number one issue for the city.

Moore believes Tallahassee’s crime rate and homeless population is the top issue. Both Porter and Bryant responded by stating that COVID-19 is currently the biggest issue. But Porter added that public participation is key to solving this issue.

“While dozens of cities, counties, and school boards have all been including real-time public comment since March, the City of Tallahassee has only allowed citizens to submit emails which are not read into the record or actively considered during the meetings,” Porter said.

In order for one of the candidates to win the primary, they must receive more than half the vote. If not, a decision will be made in the general election in November.

 While Porter said she respects both of her opponents, she of course still believes she will be the best choice for the position.

“It’s all about what sort of experience is the right kind to properly inform and prepare you for the job, and my years of formal study and work with zoning, real estate finance, public administration, and economic development is exactly what we need on the commission,” Porter said.

The primary election will be held Aug. 18.