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Veterans: We all know how important our veterans are to our community, to our families.  Receiving the benefits that they earned can be a bureaucratic nightmare. The county has a veterans office to help. But when I came on the commission, it was underfunded. Understaffed. Veterans waited way too long to even talk to someone.  We knew this was important work. We made it a priority. We found the funds. And our veterans found the assistance they deserve. Every veteran services officer who does incredible work brings home about $4million worth of benefits for our heroes.  That’s important work. Important to Pinellas. Important to me.

Environment: Protecting our environment and looking out for our natural resources is important work.  Working with the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, we have improved the quality of Tampa Bay to its best levels in decades. Water clarity is up. Sea grass growth is amazing. It's taken a lot of work to make the partnerships work to make this happen.

We banned the risky practice of fracking in Pinellas and encouraged our state legislature to do the same.

 One of the first votes I made as Commissioner was to invest in a new chiller plant in downtown Clearwater. This state of art facility reduces our carbon footprint; saves us nearly a million dollars a year in cooling costs. And now Clearwater and some private properties are connecting. Reducing their costs and impacts. Being environmentally smart while being financially smart – it’s important to Pinellas. It’s important to me.

Fluoride The dentist office isn’t necessarily anyone’s favorite place. But for most of us – it’s nice to know we have access to dental care. But for thousands of our residents including children- they need every advantage they can get. That’s why it was so foolish for our county commissioners to remove fluoride from our water – and why it was the first thing we did when you elected me to the county commission – fluoride is back in the water – and our citizens are receiving this important health benefit. Common sense smart decisisons to improve our public health. It’s important to Pinellas. It’s important to me.

 

Community Priorities Knowing that you can count on your leaders on issues close to you is important.  As your commissioner, ive worked to be responsive. When our neighbors expressed a need to make our human rights ordinance more inclusive, I was proud to lead the way in expanding our protections. We have enhanced protections for our workers with a wage theft ordinance and we are working with community partners to provide a pathway to safety for victims of human trafficking. We aren’t foolish. We know we cant be all things to all people – but when we can work with our community partners, our cities, state and federal government to make things better – that’s exactly what we are going to do. It’s important to Pinellas. It’s Important to me.

Quality of Life. We care about making sure every area in Pinellas has a wonderful quality of life. That's why we are working with folks in East Lake, Palm Harbor, and Unincorporated Seminole to improve and add recreation opportunities for our families. Improving the field conditions for Seminole Youth Athletic Association and the Cross Bayou complex, creating a permanent funding stream for sports and recreation in East Lake and solidifying plans for Palm Harbor improvements are all ways we show our commitment to creating a sense of place and opportunity for our young people.

Lealman. One of our most impoverished under appreciated communities is the Lealman community in mid Pinellas. High levels of poverty, unemployment, health issues and homelessness are seen in every corner of Lealman. The Commission created the very first Community Redevelopment Area in the unincorporated area this year. Along with programming and partnerships, the Commission is committing millions more to ensure affordable and workforce housing is available, infrastructure is improved, flooding issues are addressed and park and recreation opportunities expanded like never before. Looking out for those that don't have a voice while creating benefits that spread countywide - it's important work for all of us.

Budget: We are committed to being fiscally responsible. We have balanced the budget every year while I have been on the commission. This year as your Chair, I signed the documents that refunded some bonds on our enterprise funds and brought about over $1-million in savings. We have the lowest debt ratio of any large county in Florida and are maintaining similar staffing levels as the county had in 1989. Being smart with your money is important work today and every day.

 

 

 

 



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