Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
— Steve’s Marketplace —
In these parts, he simply goes by Hupp. He’s known for his smooth voice and melodic music.
Ironically, he can’t read music. He sure can play it, however, as a self-taught guitarist.
You see, he plays by his keen ear. And in his 24 years of performing around Amelia Island, Hupp’s heard the concerns of residents about the local government. Using this material, he hopes to coin common-sense lyrics for what has become a political theater here.
Like during his 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, his first call to duty is service. And that means faithfully serving residents in his role as a newly elected Nassau County commissioner.
“I’m not a politician – I was trying to bring service back,” says A.M. “Hupp” Huppmann. “Maybe it’d be refreshing to have a guy who just wants to serve.”
Refreshing is an understatement. Local residents are craving reliable service from elected leaders. And Hupp has struck a melodic chord.
“I’m certainly proud of my conservative roots, but at this level it’s about taking care of business,” he says. Hupp wants to engage citizens early in decisions “so we don’t keep reacting at the last minute.”
Ironically, he knows another commissioner quite well. Hupp and John Martin served together on a Naval submarine in 1985. Hupp speaks highly of Martin, who has been a steady voice on the commission.
Hupp moved to our area in 1995, while he was stationed at the Kings Bay base in St. Marys, Ga. His first music gig here came a few years later at The Palace Saloon. Right after a fire ravaged the historic landmark.
After moving to the Flora Parke neighborhood, Hupp had an unfortunate experience. A developer mowed down part of a protected preserve near his house. The response of county officials was slow and haphazard.
It was his first real experience with county government. And it planted a seed for service inside him.
But it was a more recent incident that sold Hupp on public service. He saw the loyalty and felt the support from the community for his “Foar from Home” endeavor, a remarkable rowing expedition across the Atlantic Ocean.
“The other reason I’m running is to pay back the community for what they did,” he says. Hupp and his three rowing partners are forever grateful for the $1 million raised for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Unique among commissioners, Hupp believes it is a full-time job. He works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the county office. With this additional effort, he feels he is quickly “coming up to speed on everything.”
“I intend to stay that way,” he says, regarding his full-time schedule.
Looking ahead, Hupp hopes the commission is “out from under the old problems,” in particular the feud with Rayonier. He also believes strongly in the rights of property owners, including developers.
“If I start taking away your property rights, that takes away your liberty and happiness,” he says.
The handling of a proposed RV park on Sadler Road gives him pause. Residents from the neighborhood organized and protested the park, in the latter stages of approvals.
However, Hupp will stand up against community pressure, if it’s the right thing to do. “I’m not afraid to look at the mob,” he says. “I connect with people.”
Ultimately, Hupp wants the county to adopt an ironclad vision, which is shared and embraced by the community. “I think we need a vision of what we want to look like in 10 years,” he says.
The vision part sounds so good that you could put it to music. Hupp can play the lead (guitar) and sing the inspirational lyrics. It would be a classic for our time — and “foar” our area.
Steve Nicklas is a financial adviser with a national brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns also regularly appear in weekly newspapers in Northeast Florida and in Southeast Georgia, and on his website at www.SteveNicklasMarketplace.com. He has published a book, “All About Money,” of his favorite columns from the past 20 years. The book is available on Amazon. He has also done financial reports for area radio stations and for National Public Radio in Jacksonville. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 904-753-0236.