Not for status quo

Aug. 17, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

For Sanford City Council candidate Ervin Fox, his most recent campaign for elected office was born out of hopes to see the community becoming more connected.

“We’re getting to be a diverse community now, and we need to come together,” he said. “As an old military veteran, if we’re divided, we get conquered.”

Fox, a retired staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who served in Vietnam, said he learned while coordinating supplies in that job that communication and connections are key to success.

He’s challenging incumbent James “J.D.” Williams for the Ward 3 seat in the Democratic primary; the winner will take the seat because there’s no Republican challenger. Fox has campaigned several times before for both the Lee County Board of Commissioners and the Sanford City Council, most recently in 2007 when he and fellow challenger Earl Barker went up against incumbent Linwood Mann, who came out victorious.

Regarding one of the biggest issues facing the city right now — bond referendums to implement a variety of projects — Fox said he wishes there was more information available so that he and other voters could be confident about whether this is their best option.

“I know there’s room for improvement,” he said. “But is there a need for it? I’d rather put what the people need first.”

Fox said that when he thinks of needs, community-building is at the top of his list. He’d like the city to do more to try to combat or prevent homelessness, he said, adding that he’d love for abandoned houses and buildings around town to be put toward that goal or to be used as after-school sites for children or community gathering places in general.

“In my neighborhood, they put in a park,” he said. “And a park is good. But if it’s raining, children can’t use that. Why don’t they have a community center where they could go whenever?”

In addition to moving forward, Fox said he’d also like to see some reversion back to the Sanford of his youth. He said more than any other hobbies, he loves to travel, and that many people are just like him. By working to re-introduce some long-lost public transit options, he said, the city could help residents and also increase tourism.

“When I was in the military, I could catch a train at Depot Park or a Greyhound (bus) on Gulf Street,” Fox said. “But not anymore.”

Fox also said that, if elected, he would do everything he could to get more people informed and involved, including creating a newsletter for his constituents. He added that one of the primary reasons he’s running is to try to get more people used to voting — especially in an election with only local races — as well as to push his opponent.

“When you have more competition, you ain’t forcing anyone to improve, but you’re putting that out there,” he said. “... Mr. Williams and I are good friends, but you want to give people a choice. If you don’t have a choice, people lose interest.”

Fox isn’t all about politics, though. When he’s not leading the local NAACP branch, he volunteers with a group helping fellow veterans get the benefits due to them, and he sings in his church choir in addition to serving as commander of Sanford’s American Legion Post 237, on Boykin Avenue.

He’s also a big fan of the Washington Redskins, he said, as well as the San Antonio Spurs — in contrast to Williams, his opponent, who said he’s a fan of the Miami Heat. Just like Fox and Williams are going up against each other now, the Spurs battled the Heat in the recent NBA finals.