Gulfport Mayoral Candidates Share Quality of Life Advancements
As part of our coverage of the Gulfport City Elections this March, we are asking both Gulfport Mayor Candidates a "Question of the Week." Below is each candidates' answer to our first question.
Welcome to our weekly series "Candidate Question of the Week" on Gulfport Patch. We will be asking Sam Henderson, current Vice Mayor, and Bob Worthington, former City Councilor, a question each week until the City Elections on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.
Both men are vying for your votes for Gulfport Mayor. Below are their responses to our first question of the week.
Q #1: What quality of life advancements do you foresee in Gulfport's future?
"Right now, I see that things that can't be seen would be important, like Gulfport’s aging infrastructure to improve the quality of life here in Gulfport. Our aging sewer system needs continued repairs. I would think that a more long-term permanent solution would be found.
I would also continue perusing the cleanliness of our bay waters, our beach and marinas. This has been a passion of mine for years and it is something that the City cannot let up on, or ignore. It has to be a continuing process of improvement or we lose what we have.
I do see a lot of room for improvement within the City of Gulfport, much having to do with City Hall itself. When our citizens make contact with our City office, they don’t always feel welcome or that the City is working for its citizens. If we work with restructuring of departments and a more customer friendly/taxpayer friendly City, the whole of Gulfport will benefit from this positive change."
"As great as Gulfport is at present, we have some unrealized opportunities that I am eager to address.
1) I want us to make this a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly city by installing user activated crosswalks at key intersections that are presently difficult to safely cross. While we have secured county support for the crosswalk at Beach Blvd. and Gulfport Blvd., I still have some concerns for the section of Gulfport Blvd. by Stetson University. I also am working with city staff to have these crosswalks installed at the intersections of 15th Ave and 11th Ave where they cross 55th St. This will enable us to better delineate and improve the Gulfport spur of the Pinellas Trail, and thus provide greater bike and pedestrian access to our waterfront district. I would further like to see this spur trail lead from downtown, through the marina district, and ultimately connect to the recently installed bike/walk trail on the St. Pete side of Clam Bayou which would make a loop connecting Gulfport to the Pinellas Trail from the east and the west.
2) I am dedicated to sustaining Gulfport's level of service to our residents, and to keeping costs to the city and our users as low as possible. Our senior center, recreation center, casino, theatre, library and marina are outstanding resources, and facilities of that caliber are rare for a city of our size. I want us to continue to provide, and support the improvement of, these services to our residents as well as take greater advantage of the income potential these resources represent commercially. For example, we will soon be showing classic Florida themed movies at the theatre for a small fee, and the discussion of marina improvements in order to better facilitate the boating community are already underway.
3) At my request, city staff has applied for non-taxpayer funded grants through the Restore Act which can fund storm water drainage issues in the 49th St. area, and thus reduce contaminated runoff from entering Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay. These funds can also be used for the replacement of compromised sewer pipes, which are costing the city and our residents money by allowing groundwater to infiltrate the lines and increase our cost for treatment.
4) Through the Tax Incremental Fund money that we receive for our waterfront district through the county, I want to see us make some physical improvements to the landscape of our downtown. Gulfport, in conjunction with groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchant's Assoc., has done a good job of putting feet on the street by means of subsidizing events to support our business community. Now I feel it is time to put a greater proportion of that money into the beautification of the waterfront itself, and making the draw to our community even better. The recent addition and renovation of the volleyball courts and rebuilding of the playground on our beach were great starts. We now have some decisions to make regarding what further improvements will best serve the residents of our city, and the people who come to visit us.
5) Public safety is also important to our quality of life. My current council recently provided our city with some key protections to our police force by establishing that our police dept. can only be dissolved by voter referendum or a unanimous vote of city council. Our police and fire services are a vital component of this community, and a big part of why we can call ourselves a full service city. I want us to maintain and support these services remaining at home. In the end, Gulfport is a wonderful place to live and to visit. I will do all I can to keep it a beautiful city and a place for the people invested in our community to be proud of."
For More Information:
The municipal elections are on Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The mayor serves a three-year term. The voter registration deadline is Monday, February 11, 2013 for the next city elections. For more information on how to register visit the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website.
Both candidates have set up Facebook Pages; here are the links:
Do you want to submit a question for consideration in a future post? Email the Editor at Cherlene.Willis@patch.com.