Wednesday, August 21, 2013

District 4 Candidates on South St. Pete

In the Mayoral debates, South side issues are clearly a main concern. There seemed to be general agreement that St. Petersburg as a whole City cannot move forward unless crime, education and jobs in South St. Pete are addressed.
Since the Mayor, whoever that may be, cannot move to solve problems in this critical area without City Council support, it is important that you as a voter know how the City Council candidates line up on recognizing the south side problems and their approach to dealing with them
It is important to note that Council members are selected first at the district level in the August 27, 2013 primary and then voted on City wide in the November 5, 2013 general election.
I posed this question to the candidates:  What specifically will you do to begin to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in South St. Pete?
Dr. David McKalipIf we treat people with respect and STOP PANDERING to them, they will solve their own problems. However they need a stronger police presence. Neighbors need support from the City when they are trying to drive drug dealers out. They need to know that we will have their back if they help the city clean out crime and we will have their back when they do the right thing. My “Good Neighbor Reward Program” would also help us build a community of neighbors by sending the message that it is one-on-one help that will rebuild communities, not another government program. This program would reward citizens for tutoring kids, adopting a rehabilitated prisoner returning to society or helping a single mom. We can’t “solve” decades of problems with more of the same failed government solutions that have caused many of the problems to begin with. It is time for a different course and I would help lead the way towards a community of neighbors and a racially unified St. Petersburg by first FOCUSSING ON THE COMMON VALUES shared by various communities: faith, family, freedom, independence, personal ownership and economic empowerment. Learn more at www.McKalipForCouncil.com.
Darden Rice:Since no other questions are asked about crime, except this particular question that specifically couples it with only one section of the city, I find the premise of this question somewhat troubling.  I will make reducing a crime throughout the entire city a priority without singling out any area or treating it differently.  I support community-based policing and the concept of a police professional that has a responsibility to public service. I received the endorsement of the Sun Coast PBA in this race. 
As for issues related to the southside, I support creation of a Midtown TIF district, supporting a Youth Advisory Council and Task Force, bringing in another CHC (community health center) and the supporting Johnnie Ruth Clark Health Center.
I support historical preservation efforts of buildings in midtown.  
City support for southside cultural amenities should be on par with support for other institutions. I support clear citywide goals that include objectives for midtown as part of a 'seamless mentality.
Furthermore, in my  community work, I have always worked to promote easy access to and participation in voting, expanded early vote locations and hours, and voting right restoration.
For more information about my views, please see the issues page on my website. 
Carolyn FriesI would focus on the children of South St. Petersburg because they are the future. Children are amazingly resilient and can accomplish great things when given the opportunity. I served as Treasurer/President of the John Hopkins Middle School PTSA in 2009-10 and it’s President in 2010-11. During 2010-11 we had 150 JHOP students participate in the fall fundraiser, selling over $17,000 of cookie dough, a 2x+ increase from the previous year. The profits were used for teacher supplies, the theater program, drum corps uniforms, student awards, and the 8th grade dance, among other things. While I still need to approach and obtain support from all the parties involved, I hope to work with the school administrators, teachers, PTA/SAC groups, the city and the business community to actively engage children (and their parents) in projects to improve their schools and/or neighborhoods. The process of project identification and selection, fundraising and execution would serve as a valuable learning experience, provide a sense of accomplishment and instill pride in their community.
My ThoughtsDr. McKalip seems to have the more holistic view of three District 4 candidates. He poses some very specific thoughts. I don't know if McKalip could actually pull any of this off, but it is refreshing to see someone identify the problems and propose some potential solutions. If Dr. McKalip can soften the rhetoric and put just a little more substance to his positions, he may just be a viable candidate for City Council.
Darden Rice, whom you will note below that I have contributed to her campaign, has been disappointing on several issues and this one in particular. She begins by attacking the question, and almost denying a problem exists. In her attempts to be politically correct and not offend anyone she seems reluctant to come to grips with the facts. North and South St. Pete are different.
The rest of the answer is mostly political double speak with little substance. Parroting current programs that have been less than affective or are way out in the future is  not going to work with south side voters. They need and want help now. Darden has moved some on the south side problem but needs more substance than the old "we need more and better education". Drugs, guns, drive by shootings and an ineffective police department need to be on Darden's agenda. It's time to stop worrying about what the PBA thinks.
Carolyn Fries either has no clue about the ongoing problems in South St. Petersburg or just can't bring herself to use the "Crime" word. Education and youth are indeed one of the keys to improving the quality of life in South St. Pete but they take years to have an effect. 
When you are setting on your front porch in South St. Pete listening to gun fire and watching the drug deals go down at the end of the block your focus tends to be on the present. If you look at the rest of Ms Fries responses to my seven questions in the Post District 4 City Council Race they are mostly on point. On this one not so much.
The reality is when you get a seat on City Council you have to deal with things like racism, crime, police behavior, drugs, education and the fact that like it or not St. Petersburg is not a seamless City.
There are problems that have geographic focus and are different from the north side to the south side. Tough problems that demand a stand not a softball thrower, not a political opportunist but realist.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.
Campaign Disclosures: Contributor to Kathleen Ford Campaign, Darden Rice Campaign, Concern Citizens of St. Petersburg
Have your say.  VOTE YES TO Stop The Lens.
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