Tuesday, August 13, 2013

District 4 Candidates on the Role of the Neighborhoods

Support from the Mayor's office for the neighborhood associations is critical, but how their elected district representatives view the neighborhood associations will, to a large extent, determine the success of the neighborhood associations and their ability to impact the political and administrative process.
So how do the City Council candidates feel about the neighborhoods, their associations and the role of these organizations in the administration?
We move to the District 4 Candidates.
I posed this question to the City Council candidates:  Do you support the neighborhood association concept and what will you do to specifically help rebuild this City asset?
Dr. David McKalip
A key part of my campaign is to help build a “Community of Neighbors”, not a community dependent on government. Neighborhood associations are vital and valuable asset for our city. We should encourage their growth by ensuring that each neighborhood has a relationship with the Police and Fire department. Out city should rapidly and properly respond to neighborhood representatives that report crime, streets in need of repair, issues with vagrants, sanitation and water issues and the like. I have worked hard in my own Neighborhood to facilitate traffic calming, help to design a neighborhood disaster plan for hurricanes or terrorist events and by supporting our local crime watch. I would also ask the Neighborhood association to focus on more bread and butter neighborhood issues rather than ask the city to push social and political agendas. I also would establish a program to allow people to get tax rebates, free passes for Golf, Rays Games (and more!) and forgiven fines and parking tickets if they volunteer time in their community. This “Good Neighbor Reward Program” is described on my website and would help us build a Community of Neighbors. People helping each other one-on-one will serve our city better.http://www.mckalipforcouncil.com/a_community_of_neighbors.
Darden Rice:
YES. See my website issue page, please
Carolyn Fries
Yes, I support the neighborhood association concept. I was Treasurer of the Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association in 2006 and it’s President in 2007 & 2008. We had an active board that worked well together and membership rose by more than three times-from around 30 to over 100-during my involvement. We held porch & block parties, Easter egg hunts, 4th of July in the park, annual fall harvest festivals and luminary walks. We also implemented traffic calming on 5th & 7th Streets and spearheaded the restoration of Crescent Lake leading to a group called The Friends of Crescent Lake who still maintain the lake plantings today. I completed the CONA leadership program in 2008 and am part of the Leadership St. Pete Class of 2013. As a city council member, I will use that experience to support District 4 neighborhoods by listening to and seeking residents’ input, helping them resolve neighborhood issues, assisting dormant associations get started again and regularly sharing news from the city council.
My Thoughts
The original request for answers to the seven basic questions asked that candidates respond, not just refer to Campaign web sites. Two did, one did not.
The District 4 race is growing more contentious and more polarized as Dr. McKalip seems to represent a  more conservative position as Darden Rice maintains a more liberal posture.
Carolyn Fires seems to be a more moderate alternative. A former Neighborhood association officer and  president, and graduate of the Council of Neighborhood associations (CONA) Leadership Program, Fries is still catching up with the frenzy in what may just be the City's most explosive City Council race. Her debate/forum answers  are solid, but in the increasing harshness of the primary she needs to add some edge  to key issues like the budget.
McKalip is delivering almost withering fire in the primary. Specifically targeting Rice, Fries is ignored. He is often passed off as two radical, to edgy or a gadfly, but his strong neighborhood position and budget and tax positions are starting to resonate.
Darden Rice has a strong position on neighborhoods, but failed to articulate it here. She is trying hard not to make one of those piffles that plagued her in her last two runs for elected office. Her forum/debate answers are measured, sometimes scripted and carefully designed to not upset anyone on the left or right. Darden appears tentative when McKalip attacks her specific positions.
This race originally looked like a slam dunk for Rice. She has good credentials although they are mostly liberal. She is going to have to move away from center and be a bit more forth coming or August 27 is going to be a long day.
If you would like to see the candidates responses to all seven of the questions click here District 4 City Council RACE Seven Questions
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
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