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Issues

The Environment

I’ve been working on environmental issues for most of my career. During my time on Council, I proudly founded and chair the Energy, Natural Resources, and Sustainability because I know how important it is to protect our environment and plan for the very real threat of climate change. We’re working on solutions now so that we’re prepared to address sea level rise, to which our city and our state is vulnerable. St. Petersburg can’t do it alone, though, because we share an ecosystem with the rest of the region. This means that we need to work together with a regional approach which includes other local and county governments to protect our environment. One of my proudest accomplishments is leading the effort to bring long overdue curbside recycling to St. Pete. I  worked steadfastly with our neighborhoods on solutions to smooth out the hiccups and bumps in first ever roll-out of the service.  

Transportation

Transportation is our most foundational economic development issue in the region.  As the Chair of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and a member of the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority and Pinellas Forward, I fully support bringing premium transit options to St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, and Tampa Bay. We’re making significant progress on our transportation system, and we have still have a lot of work to do. We should explore Tampa Bay Next options to attract state and federal funding for a priority project. If our region, especially Pinellas, does not build our transit system and the higher density housing that it supports, we cannot provide the needed services for our future population.

 

Infrastructure

Infrastructure problems don’t happen overnight, but they can be fixed with a forward-thinking and rigorous commitment to funding repairs and upgrades, and an accountability system to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. This has been a wakeup call, and St. Pete  has worked quickly to fix our sewage system. We’re spending $304+ million on short-term and long-term solutions to prevent future spills. I fully support, and have been a key part of, approving the workplan that requires over $300 million to fix our water treatment plants and collection systems. The requirement to complete a master plan ensures that the city will keep up with maintenance and remain accountable. Our resiliency planning should inform this process because we want to rebuild a 21st century city that can deal with challenges of increased rain, stronger storms, and sea level rise.

 

Public Safety

We all want to be safe in the four walls of our home and on the streets of our city. Keeping our neighborhoods safe must to be one of St. Pete’s top priorities.  To do that we need to continue to support programs like “Park, Walk, and Talk” that help build trust between the community and our officers. We also must continue to invest in technology such as dash cams that keep both citizens and police officers safe.

 

Good Government

During my time as the President of the St. Pete League of Women Voters and on City Council, I’ve been dedicated to making our government work better for everyone. I’ve placed a strong emphasis on constituent services and making the legislative process more transparent. I’ve introduced an ordinance to put strict limits on Super PACs and foreign corporation’s investments to ensure that our local elections truly belong to the people of St. Petersburg. We need to keep undisclosed, unlimited special interest money out of our elections and protect the voting rights of our residents.

 

Transparency is key to good government. At my urging, the city will publish a website that tells you everything you need to know to “follow the money” in the city’s four CRA TIF (tax increment finance) districts: how much is there, who is getting it, and you can even click on the contracts.Council changed is procedures to make sure we could see information more clearly and easily on the bid selection process. I also pushed for transparency and public involvement in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection consent order drafting process, so that the public is fully involved in our legal commitments to fixing our sewers.

 

Neighborhoods

All St. Pete residents are my constituents. When I was first elected, I filed the Bad Apple Landlord ordinance to keep up the city pressure to sanction slumlords. We are now pursuing municipal ordinance violations as a sharper tool to go after them. As PSTA Chair, I led the long overdue effort to remove buses from Williams Park. I  also continue to be a strong defender of Waterfront protections long before being elected to office.

 

In my district, we refurbished the marine mural on the historic Crescent Lake Water Tower. I worked with Historic Old Northeast on a parking permit program to ease parking woes for traditional neighborhoods that border a busy downtown. We are also working on a state-of-the-art community garden in Meadowlawn. And in the near future, 30th Ave N. will connect major bike trails in the city.

 

I work with my constituents on a daily basis to address issues that come up in our neighborhoods: solutions to business intrusion into neighborhoods, going after illegal short-term vacation rentals, and changing our Land Development Regulations to limit outsized, big box houses that are shoehorned into smaller lots in traditional neighborhoods.  

 

Economic Development

I am a strong and vocal proponent for our City’s economic strategies to bring jobs, support business, and fight poverty. Whether the issues are the Rays or the Rowdies; local bike lanes or regional transportation; Skyway Marina or the Southside CRA, I have been an active leader, proudly pushing for the very best interests for our City during my first  term and for the future. Our citizens always know where I stand on these issues and I listen carefully to all sides.



Paid by Darden Rice for St. Petersburg City Council, District 4.
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