"I come from a proud family that has been involved with public service for as long as I can remember. I want to work for you. We need to create more living wage jobs, provide for workforce and affordable housing so that our children can return to work, live and play in the communities that embraced them through their childhood. We must create housing for our hard-working families, our seniors, our homeless especially our veterans. We must provide employment opportunities for our youth and returning citizens. In addition, we must focus on getting guns off the streets, a top priority. I know what it takes to find solutions, navigate the complicated governmental agencies, and get things done."
LIST OF ISSUES
Housing (Workforce and Affordable)
Pinellas County has an increase of 24% in its rental rates in less than three years. We are not alone! Our students who would like to return from college and working their hometown cannot afford to return. Our seniors are priced out in that the income increase has not kept up with rental rates. And, despite several best efforts, those serving as first responders, teachers, small business owners continue to struggle with housing. As your current commissioner, I have voted to fund over $14 million in support to developers such as Blue-Sky Communities, Tampa Bay CDC, and Habitat for humanity as they develop projects to aide those within 60%-80% AMI .
Tallahassee diluted the Sadowski Trust Fund thought to be over $118 million dollars. I will not give up working with our legislature to correct their wrong, reverse their decision and fully fund projects with Sadowski Trust Fund dollars.
Pinellas County has funded a department focused in addressing the long-term goals of our community - Resiliency and Sustainability. These two departments tie in well with my service on PSTA and TBARTA- both organizations focusing on providing public transportation in a cost efficient and value-added method throughout the region.
As I serve on the PSTA Executive Committee and board of directors, funding for electric buses has been secured from the federal and state government. Funding to re-engage the ferry that runs along the west coast of clearwater will be presented though the RAISE grant process. This will allow for diminishing the number of cars on the road while transporting employees and tourists along the beach front and to the accompanying hotels.
Purchasing electric vehicles is a great step towards reducing our carbon footprint in Pinellas County.
Pinellas County has embarked upon assuring that equity and diversity is present in all areas of the county. Partnering with the Foundation for a Heathy St. Petersburg, trainings for staff through the Human Resources department as well as other community organizations will aide in placing this issue at the forefront- seeking to assure that all employees know that they are valued and appreciated!
The assault on minority populations from black and brown individuals, the LGBTQ+ community, bills that restrain the ability to discuss history the way in which it occurred as well as the passage of bills that allow for banning books is truly a step in the wrong direction!
Health and Substance Abuse
Substance abuse continues to plaque not just Pinellas County but the state and the nation. As a member of the commission, I have voted to expand the financial resources allowing for servicing those with chemical dependencies including cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl. $19 million dollars was set aside from federal government funds to be accessed via a competitive grant process. In addition, the work continues with the Homeless Leadership Alliance and its committees to address substance abuse issues within the homeless community.
Small Minority and Women Owned Businesses
Pinellas County has been in the cutting edge of growing opportunities for small minority and women owned businesses. Under the leadership of Dr Cytnhia Johnson, business that were on the outside of discussions for growth and development are not present at the table.
When the Innovation Center project was discussed, I held a community information center so that any interested parties could weigh in and provide their input. My aim is to not allow for projects to move forward without allowing those in the district to be a part of the planning on the front end and not after the fact.
Lastly, much like other communities, I am suggesting that the county move forward with a disparity study in the area of purchasing and contracts. We saw during COVID that many of the small businesses were the backbone of our communities . We must do all that we can to support and grow their experience.
While the discussion continues at the state and federal level, I have made environmental issues one of my main areas of concern. By proposing the "Baskets on Beaches" program, we have cut down on the amount of litter left on beaches that end up in our waterways.
I am so proud that I endorsed and supported approving "Ready for 100". No one can deny that Florida (particularly south Florida) is experiencing extreme flooding. The recent increase in pollen and other respiratory illnesses are due to the imbalances in our air quality. Endorsed previously by the Sierra Club, my record stands for itself when addressing the need to seek remedies now for a cleaner world tomorrow.