(In the first installment of a weekly series, candidates for the Orange Park Town Council will be profiled. This week, Seat 3 incumbent Roland Mastandrea is looking for re-election in his race …
(In the first installment of a weekly series, candidates for the Orange Park Town Council will be profiled. This week, Seat 3 incumbent Roland Mastandrea is looking for re-election in his race against John Hauber. Next week, Virginia Hall, the incumbent for Seat 4, will be profiled, in her race against Susana Thompson.)
ORANGE PARK – Roland Mastandrea wants another three years on the town council’
Mastandrea was elected in 2017 and his term is up this April. The past three years of his time on the dais has only convinced him that working for the town is his calling and his list of goals is how he plans to fill another three years. The only thing standing in between him and another three years is newcomer challenger, John Hauber.
“I ran for office three years ago for several reasons with several goals and I have to say that I believe I accomplished every single one of them,” Mastandrea said. “What I have found since then is that there is more I can do. I have the ability and I have the time to put into this town and that’s what I want to do.”
Mastandrea is proud of a lot of things the town has accomplished since 2017. At the top of that list is helping the town’s emergency management services gain its independence. A longstanding conflict between the county and the town, Orange Park residents and council members were heavily in favor of bringing ambulance and fire services back under the umbrella of the town.
“The county wanted to take it over and obviously the town wanted to keep it, and we worked to bring it back to the town and here we are,” Mastandrea said. “One of my other goals that I believe I accomplished goes hand in hand with this: the relationship between Orange Park and the county. Over the past several years prior to my council, it wasn’t a good relationship and it was very adversarial.
“As one of the five elected officials, I had a hand in helping the Town of Orange Park keep its EMS department while also amending the relationship between our body and that of the county.”
Mastandrea is also proud of his hand in helping the town acquire a grant writer. He said the town was years behind when it came to securing federal and state dollars for project funding. The grant writer has already brought thousands of dollars back to the town since then, according to Mastandrea.
“We’re bringing more tax dollars back to the town than has ever been done before and I’m happy to say that I’m a part of that,” he said. “I want to continue to be a part of it.”
He’s also proud of his involvement in approving the controversial Orange Park Plaza project.
“There was a group of residents...not huge in the grand scheme of Orange Park’s population...but a group who were adamant against the development,” Mastandrea said. “We took a real beating as a council from them, but we made the right call based on concrete factual evidence.”
Mastandrea said approving the development was about taking into mind the concerns of citizens and cross analyzing that with actual evidence. He said those against it would bring up overcrowding Orange Park streets with traffic. He said they weren’t traffic experts so they didn’t actually know, and he said traffic experts said otherwise. The same goes for schools, according to Mastandra. He said those against the plaza said it would lead to the schools becoming overcrowded.
“They weren’t experts on that either,” Mastandrea said. “We actually talked with the school district and they were in support of this.”
The controversy is still there, especially his very public dispute with two residents and his failed request the Town’s insurance policy pay his legal expenses in the dispute, but the project was passed and Mastandrea said he looks forward to working with the town, town staff and the developers to bring the project to life over the next few years. It’s one of the things highest on his list of goals for a potential second term, right beside the town’s visioning.
“The vision is going to significantly change the Town of Orange Park financially, visually and residentially, and it’s going to help with things like the town’s walkability, support of local businesses, and parks and recreation,” Mastandrea said. “The council has been very serious about this and it’s something we’re going to continue to do.”
Mastandrea wants to continue work on visioning, attack new revenue sources in light of less sales tax and less gas tax revenue rolling in due to COVID-19 and so much more but all of that will be decided this April by the voters he’s served since 2017.
“I love this council that we have now,” Mastandrea said. “We are all pro-Orange Park and I just see the possibility for so much more to be accomplished and I’m confident that I can help make it all happen. I love what I do and I want to keep doing it.”