Candidate for Palm Bay City Council, Seat 5
PTW: Why have you entered the political arena?
Audry Gates: I have always been interested in the laws and decisions that affect my life and the lives of others. My interest until recently centered on national issues. Then this past spring, the city came up the idea to make sewer hook up mandatory! That brought local politics into clear focus. Making a matter of private property rights into an ordinance didn’t set well with me.
PTW: Was your entry into this race an easy decision?
Audry Gates: Oh no! Why would anybody volunteer for this much abuse? I made the mistake of saying I was so mad that it made me want to run for city council. Some friends took this as a cue to urge me to jump in! With no political background and no money to pay the filing fee, I turned the decision over to God in prayer. On the morning that the filing fee was due, friends who have since become my campaign crew showed up with the money! I took this as the Lord’s way of saying, “You’re going to run!”
PTW: How do you differ from the other candidates?
Audry Gates: I’m 180 degrees out from the other candidates, or at least I was at the beginning of the campaign! I clearly understand the concept of God-given individual rights and responsibilities. We, the people, must stop asking government to be the answer to everything. We gave our children to public schools and then backed off. Now we’re unhappy with the results. We must remember who is at fault when government fails! I would never forget where the boundary line of government stops and whose money I’m spending.
PTW: What is your background and how long have you lived in Palm Bay?
Audry Gates: I moved to Palm Bay from Orlando nine years ago. I worked as an optical inspector and statistical analyst for the past eight years until the company filed bankruptcy last year. I’ve worked in management in the private sector and ran a small family business in Michigan before coming to Florida 11 years ago.
PTW: How would you get the money for roads Palm Bay needs so desperately?
Audry Gates: We must at every level stop living beyond our means! If we pass the proposed bond, we will receive 13 million all at once and pay it back over three years with a one million ad valorem tax. The city reports there are 301 miles of road that need immediate attention. At $67,000 per mile, it will take over $20 million to fix all the roads. The numbers just don’t add up. We’ve waited a long time for road repair. 301 miles of road can’t be fixed all at once. We should not rush to waste an additional five million plus on interest! The school bond failure should have taught government that the people want to pay as we go – no more debt!
PTW: Would you favor an ad valorem tax to raise the money?
Audry Gates: Ad valorem tax is the only option available by law to cities to raise large amounts of money. We need roads and they must be paid for by lawful means. I don’t like the fact that road repair is tied to home value. The vacant land owner will benefit just as much from good roads as the person struggling to pay a mortgage. The whole system need an overhaul.
Audry Gates: Flashdancer must be closed by whatever means necessary! This type of establishment only makes money for Satan’s helpers. It takes money out of the community that could be spent on products, takes men away from their families, and costs tax money to arrest drunks and break up fights. The bottom line is, it is just plain wrong! We don’t want this type of business in Palm Bay anywhere and certainly not next to schools, day cares and churches. If the city was willing to spend $250,000 to fight the unlawful $97 road fee, they should have been willing to fight Flashdancer. Unchallengeable ordinances must be passed to stop this now and prevent it in the future.
PTW: Where do you stand on salary increases for public employees?
Audry Gates: Every penny budgeted needs to be examined under a microscope. Until all “fat” is cut from every department, I would advocate a salary freeze, salary cuts for some members of management and I would cut fringe benefit such as furnishing city cars for private use. The citizens have to cut and “make do” with what they have. I don’t see why government should extract a “raise” from their “employers” because they have spent their “allowance”!
PTW: How would you sum up your campaign?
Audry Gates: I’m saying what a lot of people are thinking, but don’t feel it is “politically correct” to vocalize! I’m even hearing some of my early comments being repeated by the other candidates! Maybe I’ve already achieved part of my goals by making people think about things in a different way. Bottom line is, the majority in Palm Bay are decent, hard-working, God-fearing, family folks and until they take it upon themselves to show up at council meetings, I’m willing to stand in for them and make their voice heard in City Hall.