Amy Lockhart is a 47-year-old Sanford resident and Republican candidate running for reelection for Seminole County Commissioner District 4. Lockhart is the chairwoman of Seminole State College District Board of Trustees appointed by Governor Rick Scott. Lockhart previously served as chairwoman of the Seminole County School Board and operated her own consulting business.
In Lockhart’s campaign, some of her focuses are keeping tax rates low, working to ensure law enforcement has the resources to protect the community, protecting waterways and parks, and supporting smart growth. Lockhart has raised a total of $112,815 in campaign contributions, most of which are from individuals and businesses in Florida. Lockhart has spent a total of $40,172 in campaign expenditures. Learn more.
Patricia “Patti” Smith is a 71-year-old Lake Mary resident and non-party-affiliated candidate for Seminole County Commissioner District 4. Smith is a Seminole County native with degrees in science education, zoology, and biology. In her professional career, she has worked as an educator, environmental consultant and small business owner. Smith is a volunteer with the Seminole County Natural Lands Program and secretary for the Aquatic Preserve Alliance of Central Florida.
In Smith’s campaign, some of her goals are saving tax dollars by receiving grants for projects, maintaining the quality of water bodies and infrastructure, affordable housing options, enhancing parks and rural areas, and promoting responsible development. Smith has raised $5,500 in campaign contributions, most of which is self-raised. She has spent $5,145 in campaign expenditures. Learn more.
The questions below were either directly submitted by voters or were created by OCN based on what the voters told us were their priorities.
Amy Lockhart did not submit answers in time for publication.
Q: Explain your participation in local government. For example, have you ever volunteered for a local municipal board? Do you regularly attend county commission meetings? For incumbents, did you regularly attend county commission meetings before you were elected?
Patricia Smith: I worked for Seminole County Environmental Services doing project reviews and water quality sampling, and now actively volunteer with the Seminole County Natural Lands Program. As an environmental consultant I have worked with boards and commissions throughout Florida. I view county meetings online and attend occasionally.
Q: Do you think a candidate can be involved in developing land, selling real estate, etc. and lead the community without being tainted?
Patricia Smith: In my opinion, working in land development or real estate doesn’t disqualify candidates from running for office. Elected officials should declare if they have conflicts of interest on projects. My opponent receives donations from developers and reviews and approves their projects, which could be viewed as a conflict of interest.
Q: How do you plan to improve communication with your constituents so more residents can get involved in the local decision-making process?
Patricia Smith: Examples of ways to enhance public participation include requesting more local news outlet announcements and coverage through press releases, having commission meetings and workshops at times when more residents can attend, and having commissioners attend community meetings in neighborhood venues and other local government meeting places.
Q: What do you offer to the position you’re vying for that you believe others do not?
Patricia Smith: I have professional experience as an environmental scientist and educator in working on projects throughout Florida. I worked for the county and water management district and I understand permitting issues, how to collaborate with teams to find innovative solutions to problems, and listen to and respect citizen ideas.
Q: What are you going to do about the terrible driving habits of other people? How are you going to enforce safer driving?
Patricia Smith: Unfortunately, I have no control over other people’s driving habits. Having law enforcement visible along roadways could have an effect on drivers and their habits. We could work with law enforcement agencies to identify areas with higher levels of problems and request an increased presence and enforcement.
Q: How do you plan to handle current and future traffic congestion?
Patricia Smith: I have worked with transportation consulting firms on highway and traffic studies in the past and will use the knowledge gained to work to improve public transportation access and routes, suggest road improvements such as turn lanes, and assess impacts of proposed development projects on traffic flow in existing systems.
Q: Have you studied the impact of overgrowth on government services and how expansion will affect property values in the future?
Patricia Smith: This question has 2 issues. I have analyzed growth impacts, which have to be addressed to maintain public safety and services. Secondly, I can’t predict future property values based on economic trends. Expansion is one factor in values assessment, which can be either good or bad depending on the type.
Q: How do you plan to deal with any issues caused by displaced wildlife due to increasing growth and development?
Patricia Smith: If you live in a human-made dwelling you have displaced wildlife. We can maintain and create natural vegetation buffers and corridors, landscape with native plants, and leave lawns in a natural state, providing wildlife habitat in developed areas. But not everyone wants snakes and bears in their yards.
Q: How do you plan to fix and pay for future water problems?
Patricia Smith: It will depend on the water problem. Examples of problems include flooding, potable water availability for homes and businesses, replacement of infrastructure such as storm drains and pipes, drought, and pollution. My background is in water quality and quantity issues and I have experience in solving these types of problems.
Q: As we see growing evidence of climate change, what are your specific plans for sustainability in our communities and county?
Patricia Smith: Sustainability is defined as the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level. The county has developed action-plan outlines for climate impacts. Communities are currently developing sustainability goals and collaboration will be required to achieve them. Examples are transitioning to alternative energy sources and planting more trees.
Q: How do you plan to protect local remaining green spaces?
Patricia Smith: As a volunteer and promoter of our natural lands program, I will work to maintain, enhance, and increase these properties, as well as parks and recreation areas. If this question refers to properties in the rural-boundary designation, I would adhere to guidelines and policies to maintain these areas.
Q: What will you do to quell public safety concerns at a time like this?
Patricia Smith: According to a presentation given by (Seminole County) Sheriff (Dennis) Lemma, Seminole County had a 35% reduction in volume of crimes from 2019 to August, 2022 (presentation date). They have implemented programs that have received national recognition for their model of law enforcement and intervention. I would support the continuation of these efforts.
Q: How do you plan to recruit more business to build a better tax base?
Patricia Smith: Some ideas include that we should expand programs to create a well-trained and educated workforce, create incubation areas and programs to promote sustainable businesses and commercial enterprises, and maintain transportation corridors to supplement supply chains and facilitate workers’ transit to jobs.
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