"I'm running to bring common sense to the decision making process at City Hall and refocus our precious resources on the core responsibilities of city governance."
Fighting for District 3
If you live east of Downtown Sarasota and within the City limits chances are you live in District 3. Our neighborhoods are wonderfully diverse and eclectic where hardworking neighbors and families enjoy everything this community has to offer. However sometimes District 3 gets left behind at City Hall when it comes to resources and allocation of funds. If elected I will fight everyday to bring our tax dollars back from City Hall to District 3 so that everything from the roads and sidewalks to our public parks and playgrounds receive the funding they need and deserve.
Preserving Our Environment
Here on the gulf coast the environment is our most precious resource. We saw the devastating impact red tide had on our community and local economy and we must do our part to protect or gulf and waterways. This includes continually improving our wastewater infrastructure but also ensuring runoff due to re-development is properly filtered though natural and environmentally responsible means. District 3 contains one of the most important natural water filtration systems in the area at the Bobby Jones site where runoff and stormwater as far north as Lakewood Ranch makes its way south through the creeks and waterways to Bobby Jones. I support the Commission's decision to create a parkland on the site and the reduction of holes allowing for improved flow and filtration of stormwater.
Protecting our Arts and Culture
I am a strong supporter of the Arts and Cultural organizations in the City of Sarasota. These organizations are woven into the fabric of Sarasota and it is what separates us from every other coastal community in the state. In addition to the richness it brings to our quality of life, their economic impact can no longer be taken for granted. Arts and Cultural organizations not only bring joy to our community but also support hundreds of businesses and thousands of families in the area, both directly and indirectly, and offer a path for our local youth and talent to both remain in Sarasota and grow as artists and cultural professionals. This unique treasure trove of Arts and Cultural organizations must be protected and valued by the City Commission to ensure our economic prosperity and our cultural well-being.
Bringing Fiscal Responsibility
In light of the coming economic struggle due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our city needs to become highly efficient to provide the services and functions that are the responsibility of City government. But we can't do that until we stop the waste, mismanagement, and costly overruns at City Hall. From pointless studies and for-profit subsidies to massive legal fees and budget busting cost overruns, we must get our spending under control. It's the only way our city will ever have the funding needed to meet the long-standing challenges without raising the cost of living beyond the reach of our current residents. We cannot begin deficit spending if we're ever going to keep our fiscal house in order
Whether it's our water, transportation, or electric grid we have to refocus our tax dollars on preparing the City of Sarasota's infrastructure for the future and always insist that infrastructure can sustain increasingly intensive burdens BEFORE they are approved.
Water: The city has undertaken a massive $377 million dollar water infrastructure replacement program. We need leaders laser focused on preventing the costly overruns and long term disruptions that we've seen in the past from city government. While I support water infrastructure improvements, the nearly 50% increase in utility rates for current residents is unacceptable and will leave many of those in our district unable to carry the burden of paying today for decades of neglect. We must find more equitable ways to pay for these upgrades within our current record revenues and beyond. Rest assured job one for me as a Sarasota City Commissioner will be to ensure that our drinking water is safe and that other communities can look to us as the leaders in managing wastewater. We can accept no less. But we will do it in a way that our residents can afford.
Transportation: Whether it's maintaining or upgrading our roadways, sidewalks, or bike paths we should be investing in District 3 as much as we are in other parts of our community in transportation options and infrastructure. Our roadways should be adequate for the needs of our residents and in always in good repair, which isn't always the case in District 3. Sidewalks should be maintained and widened to ensure pedestrian safety, stop lines should be re-painted and our multi-use trails should provide connectivity to each neighborhood in our district. This is particularly important with the coming legacy trail extension. I will fight for connectivity and inclusion to each neighborhood in our district.
Electric Grid: Under-grounding our power lines in our district should be at the same priority level we put on these projects in other areas of the City of Sarasota. While we are under-grounding power lines on the barrier islands, downtown, and in other neighborhoods near the coast, Sarasota residents living farther east should enjoy the same protections from long power outages due to storms and wind damage these improvements provide.
Protecting Parks and Open Spaces
One of the things that makes Sarasota a great place to live, work, and raise a family is our numerous public parks and access to nature. Although some parks are treated better than others, we need to ensure the parks in District 3 are improved, repaired, and kept at a high standard. From Arlington Park to Bobby Jones and each in between, our public parks should be tended to equally and have the required upgrades and improvements so residents of all ages can enjoy a variety of park amenities. Each major park in District 3 faces its own set of challenges the next commission will have to face. Whether its the aging amenities of Arlington Park, the addition of the legacy trail and added traffic into Payne Park, or the immense undertaking of renovating and adjusting Bobby Jones, I am a champion of improving our parks for future generations to enjoy.
Increasing Public Safety
As a City Commission, one of the highest responsibilities of City Governance is providing for the safety and wellbeing of our residents. Police presence alone can quell longstanding issues with traffic and crime but our police department must be staffed, equipped, and trained adequately to ensure the safety of every neighborhood. Additionally, we have to finally address longstanding pension issues while maintaining the employment packages that keep and attract the finest officers around.
Ensuring Sensible Development
Leadership in Sarasota has a responsibility to preserve and protect the character and compatibility of development on and with our neighborhoods and infrastructure. Of course, redevelopment should always pay for itself, be compatible with its surroundings, and only be allowed if the infrastructure is adequate and in place BEFORE construction begins. Over the last several years the City of Sarasota spent almost 1.2 million dollars collecting input and drafting a new "form based" code that would guide future growth and provide certainty to our residents. After all of that expense and effort the City trashed it and longstanding issues with our zoning code remain. The next commission must work with the community to adjust the zoning code to control density, encourage redevelopment of blighted areas, and protect our neighborhoods from incompatible projects.
Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or clarifications you need on issues facing the City of Sarasota!