The Radikal: Please tell us about yourself Stafford. Please include details such as alma matter(s), employment, & family details, if possible.
Stafford Jones: I was born in Alachua County (like my parents before me), graduated from GHS and attended the University of Florida, studying Computer Science. I left college just shy of a degree to work around the country consulting for a large corporation. As far as my family life goes, I was married once before, but health problems and a complicated pregnancy took my first wife from me. Our baby boy survived. It was a very difficult time for me, both emotionally and financially.
I've very happy to say that I've remarried and have gained a wonderful soul-mate. We have three wonderful children, between us.
As for community involvement and political activity, I try to participate with several local community service organizations, and I am also Chairman of the Alachua County Republican Party.
The Radikal: Thank you Stafford, very nice response. During this interview we'll have two sets of questions with two contexts -- one as private citizen and the other as ACRC Executive Director.
As Executive Director of the Party, I'd be interested in learning about initiatives aimed at courting the African American vote here in Alachua County. Could you share your thoughts on this?
Stafford Jones: Sure. For starters we changed our Lincoln Day Dinner to the Lincoln Day/Martin Luther King Banquet. We're also active with programs like Rescue Alachua County, which deals with minority business ownership and boasting a strong organized presence with the Black Republican Club.
The RaDiKaL: With further regard to the African American community and the growing trend of crossover voters from its community (to the GOP), which one of these two men do you think would be the most marketable, most effective voice and face of Black Republicanism in Alachua County: Clovis Watson or Emery Gainey?
Stafford Jones: I don't think there is just one face or voice. We have quite a few black Republicans that are all leaders in their own right. In addition to both Clovis Watson and Emery Gainey, we have Jeff McAdams, Stephanie Seawright, Mort Nembhard and Cain Davis. Economic opportunity and school choice are just some of the issues causing African-Americans to take another look at the Republican Party.
The Democrats on the Gainesville City Commission talk a good game about wanting the east side of Gainesville to be successful, but every time you turn around, they are passing new environmental regulations that prevent the redevelopment that is so desperately needed there.
The RadiKaL: People talk while in line at the water cooler, others gossip on internet boards. Could you set the record straight on what on what level of involvement, if any, you had in saving the political career of Gainesville City Commissioner Ed Braddy, stemming from last year's DUI charges?
Stafford Jones: Well some people have said that I and Jeff McAdams went out and protected Ed. I've been a friend for a long time. What we cared about wasn't Ed Braddy's political career, but Ed himself. Ed will tell you, before he went to rehab a few people were honest with him and said "you have a problem" and I and Jeff McAdams were some of those people. I was on the phone with a rehab center the day of the accident and Jeff had him in a hotel and took him in. There was nothing we could do politically to save him.
The RaDiKaL: With regard to the case in Alachua, tell us how matters have escalated between yourself -- as private citizen -- and Charles Grapski. Are you in fact contemplating a lawsuit?
Stafford Jones: I've known Charlie for many years. We had many battles, but the case in the City of Alachua has pushed our battles to the limit. Charlie Grapski claimed that I was actively seeking to defraud the State Retirement System.
Charlie lives to say what he likes. However, when the Alachua County Today published his arrest record (handed to them by FDLE no less), Charlie claimed he'd sue, yet he has no issue making claims about me. Yes, I plan on suing him and I'll probably get "a buck" out of it, but it's the principle.
The RaDiKaL: I'm not sure if the readers are familiar with the your blog and Charlie reaction to it. Care to share?
Stafford Jones: [chuckles] Well he was writing all over the internet about what [he] thought was going on in Alachua, so I put up a blog of my own, to offer another side. Within a couple days Charlie calls me (tHiS sOuNdS familiar...). He basically said, "I just want to give you the opportunity to deny involvement in this." Why would I do this? I mean you have a blog, we have a blog, we'll counter you, 'what's the problem?' It was an incredulous phone call to say the least.
THE radiKaL: We often hear the term "growth" associated with the Republican Party here in Alachua County. Could you please rate the following cities in our county in an economic-redevelopment context (this could be in terms of industry or residential developments).
Hawthorne: way out east, not experiencing overflow of West Gainesville (like Newberry). Limited growth all on their own terms.
Newberry: A lot of stuff out there, it's a bedroom community for Gainesville.
Micanopy a small town with an antiques market, ice cream. Remains small as they like it there.
High Springs: bedroom community for the City of Alachua.
Alachua: Creating jobs, whole other ball game.
Archer:One of the poorest communities, there's growth headed west on Archer Rd., but it will take years to reach town.
[East] Gainesville: Well as far as making good there to truck out, that's a no b/c it's not close to the interstate. Low potential for quality residential growth. The City of Gainesville government has neglected this area far too long.
the RADIKAL: We constantly hear of the battle in the City of Alachua, between the Pro-Growth Republicans and the Anti-Growth Greens. What's the role of the Democratic Party in this fight?
Stafford Jones: Outspoken Democrats are very anti-growth, and active base of the Alachua County Democrats are closer to Greens than the traditional southern Democrat (apparently a dying breed).
ThE RadikaL: Yes, but this doesn't make much sense to me. If the Republicans are Pro-Growth and the Dems are in line with the Greens and Dems rule the City of Alachua Commission, then why are the Dems & Greens losing almost every single battle? Are the Dems on the City Commission rogue Democrats?
Stafford Jones: Many people are out of line with rank and file of their county party, examples are Gil Coerper and James Lewis, other examples include Lee Pinkoson and Rick Bryant.
The RADIKAL: What about Commissioner Burgess?
Stafford Jones: Yes, her included. The recent 'Gas Tax' was allegedly intended to repair roads, but the new budget is allocating much of the funds to RTS. Despite the County Government surpassing $105million in terms of their budget, they could have worked with that, they still raised fess on homeowners. My property tax alone this year was over five grand.
The Radikal: What are your thoughts on the CHOICES Initiative, the County Fuel Twx, and Better Parks, Better Roads?
Stafford Jones: I'm opposed. Local government has lost all credibility. We were told that some 15,000 people would qualify for CHOICES yet two years down the road the program only helps 800 people. This is money that was pulled out of the economy instead of circulating, helping.
The RaDiKaL: With the growing number of Gay & Lesbians not just voting Republican, but joining the Party as well, do you see the GOP's Family Values image in danger?
Stafford Jones: I'm a kind of live and let live kinda guy. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, continuation of the species. There are issues society hasn't totally figured out. Many people in the Party are very tolerant, "God bless ya, but we're not ready to call same sex unions, marriage."
The RaDiKaL: Is the Republican Party still the right party for the Pro-Life voter?
Stafford Jones: I think probably so. But even amongst my own Executive Committee I have Pro-Choice people. We don't throw each other out of hte party over it. Some argue if it's the government's role to regulate this practice. Meanwhile, the religious presence is, from the point of conception there is life. Is it a clump of cells or is it life and if it's life, what right is it of mine to destroy it? That's the divide.
The RADikal: What are your views on the Homeless Problem in Alachua County. How would you resolve it?
Stafford Jones: The reason for this problem is that the county has broadcast the message that here in Alachua County we'll take care of all th homeless. I'm not talking about homeless families, but panhandlers. We created this problem, we need tough panhandling laws in place. We need to ensure that local government isn't helping the homeless to the point they won't do anything for themselves.
The RadiKal: Please share your thoughts on the following GOP hopefuls.
The recent 'Gas Tax' was allegedly intended to repair roads, but the new budget is allocating much of the funds to RTS. Despite the County Government surpassing $105million in terms of their budget, they could have worked with that, they still raised fess on homeowners. My property tax alone this year was over five grand.
Fred Thompson - great communicator, reminds me of Ronald Reagan's "it's morning in America again."
Sam Brownback: a third tier candidate.
John McCain: campaign is languishing, popularity fading.
Rudy Giuliani a moderate, pro-security.
Ron Paul: Ron Paul is very mcuh a libertarian. Big on removing government regulation from business, but doesn't understand why we're involved in Iraq.
Mitt Romney busines leader, saved SLC Winter Olympics.
Fred Thompson - great communicator, reminds me of Ronald Reagan's "it's morning in America again."
The RaDiKaL: If Romney gets the GOP nomination can he turn Mass. blue?
He did get elected governor.
The RadiKaL: Yeah, but it's tradition in Mass. to split the ticket in local elections. Do you think Romney can turn the state?
Stafford Jones: Doubt it.
The RadiKal: Now, please rate Veep possibilities, 1-5 (based on marketability, politics, background, etc).
Charlie Crist: 3
Joe Lieberman: 1
John McCain 1
Elizabeth Dole 1 :o(
The Radikal: NOW LADIES & GENTS, TIME FOR THE LONGEST WORD ASSOCIATION LIST OF YOUR LIFE! Let's do this Stafford!
[U.S.] Sen. Mel Martines: Mixed bag reaction. He was made Party Chairman b/c he'll deliver the I-4 Corridor. The I-4 Corridor decides Florida.
Cliff Sterns: one of the truest, most genuine politicians you can meet.
Ward Scott: somebody that really cares about his community; his personality unfortunately makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
Paula DeLaney: She's just out there. I'm not sure where she comes from.
Charles Grapski: completely blinded and led by his ideology. I believe he's a narcissist; Charlie loves to feel persecuted, he loves to make himself seem like the dragon-slayer to his liberal friends around the country; he's a narcissist that loves to feel persecuted.
Michael Canney: An activist. Co-Chair Green Party.
Hugh "Bud" Calderwood: a very smart man.
Jim Osteen: Don't know him.
Gainesville City Commissioner, Jack Donovan: An absolute flake.
Gainesville Mayor, Pegeen Hanrahan: very smart, very strategic; she can be manipulative, maybe that's a little strong, but she can manipulate...
Tony Domenich: Unpredictable.
Gainesville Sun's Ron Cunnigham: a liberal that can throw you a curve ball.
High Spring Herald's Ron Dupont: someone who believes he's being fair, but guided by ideology.
Chuck Chestnut: Nice guy.
Chip Morris & Dr. PC: Nice guys.
Ed Jennings: A friend; we agree & disagree.
Bryan Boukhari: makes serious attempt at finding balance.
Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, Pam Carpenter: somebody I have to work with, makes hones attempt at running elections.
DNC Chairman, Howard Dean: he's a non-factor.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel: short-sighted, nobody likes war, but we need to look at potential risks in the future.
Arnold: generally good governor, don't agree w/ everything.
Hillary: she has the talent to tell audiences exactly what they want to hear. Over and over.
Al Gore: Completely wrong on global warming.