Charles Parker Weighs In On District 2 Commission Race
By Charles Parker // August 6, 2014
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I publically began my new gig as a reporter and columnist for Space Coast Daily on Tuesday night at the political Hob Nob, hosted by the Space Coast Tiger Bay Club.
I decided that I would not interview any candidates due to time constraints and the informal nature of the evening. However, I talked with many off-the-record – gauging their opinions on their campaigns and on the art of campaigning.
I paid particular notice to the County Commission District 2 candidates since it is a very interesting and intriguing race.
I wrote awhile back that I believed that the front-runners in the primary were Jim Barfield (the establishment candidate) and Michael Hartman (the Tea Party candidate). Nothing has happened that has altered my view. In fact, my view has solidified.
The winner of the primary will face former Republican and current No-Party-Affiliated Jack Smink. More on Jack later.
I met Barfield and Hartman for the first time and had brief conversations. Barfield and I talked about the proximity of our homes on South Merritt Island and Hartman extended condolences for the recent passing of my dad.
Both men were pleasant. Both men were engaged with voters when I approached. They finished their conversations before turning to me. I respect that. Nothing I hate worse than when I am speaking with someone and they are staring over my shoulder. Barfield and Hartman both seem genuine and qualified.
However, my mother always told me that “you are who you hang with.” So I was interested to see who Barfield and Hartman were flanked by throughout the evening. Both arrived a little late, so both had surrogates at their assigned tables as the event commenced.
While I won’t mention names since they are not public figures, I happened to know both sets of supporters. And one set troubled me.
Barfield had a longtime Merritt Island couple at his table. They have been business owners and charity supporters. They are well-respected. I would trust them with my kids. They would watch my back if I asked.
Hartman had a father/daughter duo who are well-known in right-wing circles. The father has knocked on my door and, at that time, we had a nice conversation. He said then that he liked and respected my writing. I found out his opinion had changed about my opinions after a column included a story about his daughter.
From my recollection, she had a booth that included an image of President Obama with a bulls-eye on him. I noted to her that while I generally disagreed with POTUS, I felt the poster was disrespectful. She said it was from a drinking game. She left it up. I wrote about it.
I’m sure they are nice people. But they have a reputation…and reputations are hard to shake.
While the Tea Party moniker and support have sustained his campaign so far, Hartman must take note of his associations and of recent Tea Party defeats in other areas of the country. The establishment in Brevard has legs. The primary outcome is still up in the air, but Barfield has the advantage at this point.
Hartman must broaden his base and expand his endorsements if he wants to win on August 26.
Then the winner gets Smink.
Jack Smink is a nice guy – well-intentioned. He compares himself to George Washington. But he still looks like Elvis. While his gentle and folksy input can be valuable for helping shape policies, he is not ready to be casting votes on those policies. He needs some gravitas. Maybe a term or two on a county committee, beyond Parks and Recreation where he has already served.
Barfield will beat Smink in a head-to-head in November – no question in my mind about that. However, Hartman may not. Smink would probably get much establishment support against Hartman – simply as a shot across the Tea Party bow.
While I don’t run in either of their circles, at this point, I’m choosing to hang with Jim Barfield. And I think my mom would be okay with that.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles Parker is a longtime resident of Brevard County and has been writing for various publications for the last 40 years – both print and digital. Parker covers space, politics, religion, and other news and special events for Space Coast Daily.
Currently, he is an aerospace engineering teacher at Merritt Island High School. He is also the director of both the da Vinci Academy of Aerospace Technology and the Academy of Hospitality, Entrepreneurship, and Tourism at MIHS. He is a professor of Humanities and World Religions at Eastern Florida State College and Valencia College.
Parker has worked extensively in the tourism and aerospace industries in Brevard. He has also been a United Methodist pastor and director of a non-profit to help young adults aging out of foster care. He was formerly a board member at Brevard Achievement Center and the Childcare Association of Brevard. He was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to the Children’s Services Council from 1999-2003.
Parker earned a BA in Organizational Management from Warner University and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married, has four children and one grandchild.
You can follow Parker on Twitter @cpbrevard