CRESTVIEW— A West Florida businessman has offered to commission a poll for city residents free of charge.
Quint Studer—a Pensacola businessman, philanthropist, the owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and owner of the health care consulting company, Studer Group—contacted Mayor David Cadle and offered to pay a polling company to survey residents, a value of approximately $37,000.
At a June 12 city council meeting, Cadle discussed this proposition with the council and expressed his appreciation for Studer.
“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.”
Larry Harris of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research presented the survey to the council at a previous meeting; several council members and the mayor criticized his execution.
“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 said.
Councilman Bill Cox said he would like to respectfully decline from any involvement with Mason-Dixon because nothing is free; there are always strings attached.
Councilman Doug Faircloth said he was skeptical about the survey because if it asked any questions about government, he didn’t want to survey to get in the way of the Charter Review Committees duties. The committee currently is determining whether the city should have a referendum on restructuring local government.
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.
“There are things where strings aren’t attached,” Hayes said. “Sometimes there are just naturally good people in the world.”
The city’s attorney, Ben Holley, said the council should first find out what kinds of questions will be on the survey before agreeing, and that it should be acceptable as long as it doesn’t have anything to do with the government.
Cox again voiced his apprehension due to Harris' poorly received presentation and his past experiences with Mason-Dixon. Blocker asked if the mayor could hold off in responding to Studer until the Charter Review Committee reviews the issue and gets back with the council.
City Council President J.B. Whitten voiced his concerns about waiting too long and 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.
The council eventually agreed that Cadle would draft a response letter to Studer accepting the survey offer provided there are no questions about government operations.
Hayes motioned to accept the survey with the stated stipulations; the motion was seconded by Faircloth and passed 3-2 with Faircloth, Hayes and Whitten in favor and Cox and Blocker opposed.
Cadle said he would have a drafted letter to the council this week for review.