Often times campaign promises are vague, emotional words devised by a crafty politician to gain favor with voters. After elections, losers disappear and the winners -along with most voters – forget the campaign promises rather quickly.
However, sometimes promises are clear, verifiable, and have consequences when broken.
One of the most famous campaign promises was George H. Bush’s “read my lips no new taxes” pledge that went out the window after he was elected.
Bush’s promise was clear and easily fact-checked. He broke it. He lost the next election.
President Obama’s promise that you can “keep your doctor” under the Affordable Care Act did not cost him an election. But his broken promise caused his party a lot of problems during the recent elections. Once again, it was a promise that was clear and verifiable.
Here in Tallahassee, Mayor Andrew Gillum made a clear and verifiable promise with regards to how he would serve the citizens of Tallahassee when he was a candidate for the office he now holds.
When asked how he would meet the responsibilities of the Leadership Mayor position with his current 40 hour a week job that paid six figures, he told a reporter he would cut back on the job and reduce the salary in half if elected.
Due to Mayor Gillum’s unwillingness to address his pledge, we had to wait two years until tax filings with the IRS were made public to find out if he kept his promise.
He did not!
Instead, Mayor Gillum kept his 40-hour a week job that paid him $133,000 and he also collected his $76,000 salary as the Leadership Mayor. The Mayor had good year -he pulled down a cool $209,000 in 2015.
By the way, Gillum voted to raise taxes and the fire service fee and saw no problem with $175,000 salaries for top city staff.
Will Gillum’s broken promise have consequences? Only time will tell.
And so with TR’s mission of keeping voters informed, we look to two newly elected leaders who have made clear and verifiable promise during their campaigns.
First, there is Sheriff Walt McNeil. He made it clear that the increasing crime rate in Leon County was a major reason he should be elected. He held the incumbent Sheriff, Mike Wood, accountable through aggressive campaign advertisements even though the crime rate was driven by City of Tallahassee incidents.
McNeil’s response was, as Sheriff, he could lower the crime rate throughout Leon County.
This is a verifiable and easily measured promise. McNeil has four years to get the crime rate under control.
Second there is Superintendent Rocky Hanna. In a controversial campaign devoid of much talk about the issues, Hanna made two significant promises that are verifiable.
First, Hanna took the position that a new high school was not needed on the southside. Instead, he promised significant renovations to southside facilities.
Second, he campaigned to move more money from administrative expenses into the classroom.
Hanna’s promises can easily be verified.
Both of these elected officials have been given the trust of the voters based in part on what they said they would do if elected. It is our job at Tallahassee Reports to keep you informed about the progress, or lack of progress, in keeping their campaign promises.