SEIU St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate

07/01/09 Lindsey Kratochwill
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Tuesday night at the Sunshine Center, many of the St. Petersburg mayoral candidates spoke at a debate, put together by Service Employees International Union, Florida Consumer Action Network, Clean Water Action, Progress Florida, Alliance for a Livable Pinellas among other progressive organizations.

Service Employees International Union representative, Anita Dryer of St. Petersburg explains the reasons for organizing this debate.

The candidates were asked a series of questions during the debate, covering topics from the economy to the environment.

One major focus was on the current economic crisis, and what they would do to ensure a quality of life not impacted by no or slow growth. City Councilman Jamie Bennett emphasized protection for employees.

Former City Council member Kathleen Ford focused on taxes and proposed a decrease.

Former Councilman Bill Foster wanted to look more closely at the budget and the effectiveness associated with spending.

Another topic discussed was green jobs: what they are and what can be done to create more. Candidate Deveron Gibbons proposed that current jobs should be maintained, and then green jobs can be created and maintained.

Scott Wagman referenced the use of Feed-In Tariffs in Germany, Japan and Gainesville that encourage production of greener energy to be bought by energy companies at a set price and suggested that St. Petersburg think about a similar strategy.

Former Councilman Larry Williams believes that in order to create green jobs, businesses need to first be drawn to the city.

Lessening the carbon footprint was another topic discussed.

Candidate John Warren proposed that one answer is in the preservation of buildings, rather than building new ones.

Deveron Gibbons suggested focusing on LEED standards for more environmentally sound building practices. But he said this should not be made mandatory.

Scott Wagman wants to focus on albedo, something he learned about during his time working with paint manufacturing. This can translate to asphalt and roofing as well.

The Candidates also were asked about their ideas for water conservation as well as meeting the people’s needs for clean affordable water. Scott Wagman laid out his ideas for both short term and long term goals in terms of the water situation in St Petersburg.

Larry Williams brought up the decision to join Tampa Bay Water.

Deveron Gibbons stated that it is important to have good leadership representing St. Petersburg, even under Tampa Bay Water, while also creating more ordinances.

The primary election will take place on September 1.

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