CRESTVIEW— A West Florida businessman has offered to commission a poll for city residents free of charge. Now for the question: Will the council accept?
Quint Studer—a Pensacola businessman, philanthropist, the owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and owner of the health care consulting company, Studer Group—recently contacted Mayor David Cadle and offered to pay a polling company to survey residents, a value of approximately $37,000.
Cadle says the proposal is worth considering.
“If he’s interested in us, there’s a reason,” Cadle said. “Maybe something good can come out of this for the city, maybe more jobs... I encourage the council to reach out, or I can, and let them do the survey.”
If that happens, the project’s supporters hope the proposal will be warmly received the second time around. Larry Harris of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research presented the survey to the council earlier this year; several council members and the mayor criticized his execution, which they believed belittled the area.
To prevent the same occurrence, some council members say they have questions for the philanthropist.
“My question is, what type of survey is this going to be, and is it going to be beneficial to the city?” Councilman Joe Blocker says.
Councilman Doug Faircloth says he is skeptical about the survey because if it asks any questions about government, he doesn’t want the survey to get in the way of the Charter Review Committee’s duties. The committee currently is determining whether the city should have a referendum on restructuring local government.
Councilman Bill Cox says he would like to respectfully decline from any involvement with Mason-Dixon because nothing is free; there are always strings attached.
According to Councilman Shannon Hayes, the survey should have nothing to do with the government but be geared toward businesses and what residents want to see come to the city.
Further, he believes Studer is well-intentioned.
“There are things where strings aren’t attached,” Hayes says. “Sometimes there are just naturally good people in the world.”
The city’s attorney, Ben Holley, says the council should first find out what kinds of questions will be on the survey before making any decisions, and that it should be acceptable as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with the government.
Time is of the essence.
City Council President J.B. Whitten says waiting too long could mean losing the opportunity. According to Whitten, the offer was sent in January, and Whitten said he is afraid if the city pushes it off any longer Studer will have better things to do.
“The citizens will be disappointed if we turn this down,” Hayes said.