Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, March 13, for a citywide vote to decide who will represent Gulfport City Council in Wards 3 and 1.
To help inform the community, Gulfport Patch will publish a City Council Candidate Question of the Week for both candidates.
Below you will find the answers from Ward 3 Candidates James Perry and Jennifer Salmon.
Gulfport Patch Question of the Week: Are there underused services in Gulfport? If so, what are they, and how would you promote those services so that they provide a greater benefit to the entire community?
"After taking some time to study the City of Gulfport website and the services currently provided, I feel there are many services available and our facilities are something that all residents should be proud of. Gulfport residents and City Council over the years have done a great job at providing spacious updated facilties, with capability for a variety of social functions for all age groups. I do believe there are many ways in which these facilities can be better utilized to improve the quality of life for Gulfport residents, as well as prove to be profitable for the City.
I have found after speaking with a few residents that there are services that need volunteers, particularly in the Senior Services Department. "Meals on Wheels" is in need of assistance and there was suggestion of classes being offered at the Recreation Center after 7:00pm for 55+. I have also been advised that there may be a problem with the Reassurance phone service currently available for the elderly and will continue to research this issue for a better understanding. I also understand that the library would be most appreciative of volunteering in the children's department.
As previously mentioned, I continue to feel our full service Marina has room for growth and could become more profitable if at full capacity. We have the capability of additional services being offered such as commissioned boat rental or the expansion of the products sold in the ship's store. I also feel some of the leisure services outlets such as the Casino and Receation Center could be more profitable with additional events.
Public Safety is a service of major concern, and I will continue to support maintaining our local police force.
As a Council Member, I will educuate myself as to the services available in our community, speak with our residents and support their concerns."
"I will keep Gulfport a full service city. We have our own police, fire, and sanitation. We should increase utilization of recycling, library, parks, recreation center, senior center, casino, and marina. Staff and volunteers make it happen!
We need 100% participation in curbside recycling. We now collect all clean paper products, all number plastics, tin and aluminum cans. You can bring all colors of glass to the Neighborhood Center and while you are there, pick up free mulch. We need to advertise this better and update the information on our existing recycling bins.
The reconstituted Friends of the Library and staff are working hard to increase library use. The space is more inviting, we have a free wireless internet signal, and computer stations are full most of the time. Library staff are willing and able to serve even more people through library events.
The Senior Center is packed every day. The exercise room is bursting at the seams and needs more space. Seniors can use the exercise room and GEMS transportation services for nominal annual fees (and $1 per trip charge). The Senior Center Foundation has been a huge part of the Center's growth. And yet, there are seniors who could benefit from these and other programs who don't use it.
Some seniors prefer our Recreation Center which offers programs for all ages. The Tot-Time/Voluntary Pre-K program is usually fully subscribed. The after school program offers bus service from nearby elementary schools. Working through the teen council, the Recreation Center could become a bigger resource for teens that have a lot of time on their hands when high school ends at 2:20. Instead of wandering our streets, these teens could be learning valuable life skills from our residents (e.g., how to create and run a business).
There are 60 empty slips at the marina. The Harbor Master suggested making 20 of those slips available for responsible boaters with 40' or longer Coast Guard-inspected boats. Boaters would be charged an enhanced fee to provide this service. One-time upfront costs for showers, laundry, cable TV, and a better ship store would benefit all boaters in the marina and could help to fill the remaining 40 slips. Done correctly, live aboards will enhance our marina and its surrounding community, while eventually adding $120,000 a year in revenues from boat slip rental fees.
The Casino could bring at least 300 people, five days a week to private and public events. More activity at the Gulfport Casino will benefit our unique waterfront retail shops and restaurants while reducing the Casino’s annual subsidy.
Parks could be improved to increase their use. The children's playground equipment needs an upgrade to serve all abilities. Attractive gabled roofs would provide shade for year round use. Clymer Park needs a winding sidewalk, more benches, and public art. If we safely remove the toxic sediment in Clam Bayou, we would increase bird and marine life there and make it a tourist destination, akin to Ding Darling Nature Refuge in Sanibel."
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If you would like to submit a question for the candidates, email the Editor at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: The "Question of the Week" for the Gulfport City Council Candidates for Ward 1 will be published in a separate story.