Richard Baker on the Issues
On Growth, Taxes, and the Economy
What do you think about Indian River County's current rate of residential growth? It’s growing too fast, and 76% of the voters agree with me. What would you do about it and why? Maintain building height limits and the urban service line. Raise impact fees. Strengthen LDR’s and land use plans. Carefully review densities. Support local developers with green in their plans, who save trees, and propose imaginatively designed living communities that are good for all of us. As a commissioner, stand up to anyone who threatens our quality of life!
How would you fairly and sensibly balance environmental conservation and development? True, it’s complex, but so important to get right. We must always balance diverse uses of our resources—business, residential, educational, recreational, and agricultural—to preserve our clean air and water, our quality of life, and the unique beauty of our area. All plans, codes, and regulations must be designed to assure a healthy living environment and a sustainable economy. And then these guidelines must be enforced and strongly upheld.
Should the Indian River County Commission work with other counties or municipalities? Of course. In what areas and why? A master regional plan to provide economic benefits and incentives for cooperative land uses that enhance and preserve our natural resources-- including greenways, recreation areas, open space, and wildlife. The Indian River Lagoon and the Blue Cypress Marsh ecosystems require a coordinated effort by many to be preserved Planning for future transportation and water resources is especially important.
How would you promote diversity and vitality in the county's economy? First, encourage world-class companies with good jobs to come here because of our quality of life and the quality of our work force. Simultaneously, support education for all ages to build an outstanding workforce, which can command “livable wages.” Collaboratively plan to determine the best use of our land resources for business, residential, educational, recreational, and agricultural purposes. Work together creatively with investors to find innovative solutions like Business Incubators.
How would you approach county taxes? The problem – Residential growth today doesn’t pay for itself given the need for increased infrastructure and services. Business and agricultural growth do pay for themselves. Open space requires few services and greatly enhances our quality of life. The county needs balanced growth of all four to thrive. Solution – Increased impact and permit fees, not increased taxes. Why? Growth should pay for itself, not overly burden those who live and work here.
On Roads
Should the county continue the planned widening of 43rd Avenue to five lanes? No. Why? This decision to widen is not only bad, but it’s not necessary. There is absolutely no reason why a neighborhood should have a major thoroughfare going through it. Alternative solutions can be found with a little work and some consideration for the people who live there.  
What would you do to ensure the county is effective at meeting its future road needs? First of all, thoughtfully plan for the future based on well-researched assumptions and facts. Avoid putting highways through residential areas and plan for a small number of major routes to move people in and out of residential areas. Build much- needed bike and walking paths on most major residential roads. Provide community transportation service and make sure that it serves citizens of all income levels in our county.
 On the Bond Issue 
Should the county issue $50 million in bonds to buy new environmental and cultural lands and the development rights to agricultural lands? Yes, absolutely. Why? To maintain a balanced community, with beautiful natural lands, high water quality, cherished history and culture, and sustainable agriculture, while fairly compensating landowners for their land. Plus, what a great deal for the taxpayer-- $26 million raised by the last bond issue purchased $52 million worth of lands, worth more than $200 million on today’s market. I’m confident we’ll achieve similar results this time.
On Impact Fees 
What is your stand on the proposed impact fees for parks, schools, law enforcement, jail space, landfill space, libraries, water and sewer? Yes, we should have impact fees for residential growth. Why? Impact fees are the only way (other than overly burdensome taxes on our citizens) to make new growth pay for the cost it is inflicting on our county. Residential growth (more people moving here) does not pay for itself. Since business, agriculture, industry, and open space provide sufficient revenues to cover their costs, there should be lesser impact fees for these.
On Citizen Involvement
Should county citizens have a voice in their government? Yes. Why? The government should be for the people. Through their vote I hope to be elected to represent everyone’s interests. However major policy changes and multi-million dollar investments should be decided with a countywide referendum. Two examples, which have and will shape our county, are building height limitations and keeping our urban service line intact.
On the Sebastian Inlet and our Beaches
How should the commission handle relations with the Sebastian Inlet Tax District? A sand bypass system that mimics the natural flow of sand from north to south is now being considered by the SITD as a result of successful lawsuits by three IRC property owners. The hiring of a new executive director and the election of 4 new SITD commissioners provides an excellent opportunity to foster a new cordial and productive relationship between Indian River County, Brevard County, and the SITD.
Should the county continue its plan to spend more than $50 million to place sand on local beaches? The real challenge here is how to protect our beaches--a valuable county resource. In the past, sand pumping was our only tool, but it is expensive, temporary, and can harm our reefs. The latest proposal for sector 7 will spare the reef, but as a scientist who understands the complexity of problems like this, I am more excited about the new sand bypass systems-potentially a more permanent and natural solution.
On the Fire-Medic Position
Should the county create a new "fire-medic" position so dual-certified firefighters and paramedics can do each other's jobs? Yes. Why? Now that the county will require at least 2 new station houses, the fire-medic position should be implemented for cost effectiveness and flexibility as we continue to grow. We need to assure that current single certified firefighters and paramedics will not be discriminated against in the work place as we embrace this change. If we had been smarter, we would have done this 10 years ago.

VOTE for Richard Baker

November 2nd

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Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Richard Baker, Democrat for Indian River County Commission District 1