Where I stand
– Rick Kriseman in 2006
The Pier is a St. Petersburg landmark, a tourist destination, and a local amenity, and has long been the signature structure of our prized waterfront. It is important that we get this right. That’s why I've laid out a series of next steps that balances a sense of urgency with a spirit of collaboration.
Before taking office and with the cooperation of the outgoing mayor and city council, I will appoint community leaders who are well prepared to lead a thorough but expedited process. Their work will build on the extensive work done by the original task force and the 8/28 Alliance and will include a final round of public input. I will ask them to submit their recommendations no later than April 2, 2014, with the goal of having a final design in place within the first nine months of my administration.
I am confident that with leadership from city hall the next design will meet with the public’s approval and will lead to a pier that we call be proud of.
Since the arrival of the St. Louis Browns in 1914, professional baseball has been woven into the fabric of St. Petersburg. It’s a part of our identity. St. Petersburg and its residents have invested much time, energy, and money into the Tampa Bay Rays. The African-American Community, and particularly residents of the Gas Plant Neighborhood, made great sacrifices to make way for Tropicana Field.
My preference is for the team to remain in St. Pete and to thrive here, and improving public transportation is one of the keys to that happening. That's why the Rays should join me in fully supporting the Greenlight Pinellas initiative.
If that proves to be unrealistic - if the Rays simply do not want to be here any longer - then they should be given the opportunity to pay an exploratory fee in order to look at other locations, provided those locations are in the Tampa Bay area.
Throughout the negotiating process I will ensure that our taxpayers are protected. While a sense of regionalism is important, especially in tough economic times, my primary duty will always be to the residents of St. Petersburg.
Nothing I do as mayor will be as important as keeping our residents and visitors safe. That starts with making sure that our officers are always well-trained and well-equipped, and working out of a station worthy of their service to our community.
As mayor, I will tighten our high-speed pursuit policy and reestablish a community policing philosophy that emphasizes the relationship between the police officer and the neighborhood in an effort to promote trust and cooperation. Moving back toward community policing does not mean abandoning the use of innovative technologies like predictive policing.
With a new chief and a new police station on the horizon, an opportunity exists to rebrand our department in order to boost morale and to rededicate our department to its three major tenets – Respect, Accountability, and Integrity. It’s time to begin a new chapter for the St. Petersburg Police.
Finally, crime is the outcome of many unfavorable conditions, including social and economic. We must do what we can to understand and address these root causes in order to create a safer St. Pete for future generations.
We must do a better job of attracting new businesses and supporting existing ones in order to compete with other cities. Avoiding high taxes, unreasonable regulations, and burdensome permitting is important, but the best way to grow and sustain our local economy is by having a top notch public education system, efficient mass transit, sound infrastructure, and a high quality of life. Our residents and visitors deserve the best -- and the best will bring businesses looking for a home.
We must continue to develop and encourage what we have already -- our marine science and medical districts, for example. A Marine Science Research Park and better utilization of our port can be a boost to our local economy. And with high-quality medical facilities like Bayfront, All Children's/Johns Hopkins, and St. Anthony's, the opportunities to expand research are limitless.
More attention must also be paid to the mercantile hot spots in the Tyrone area and West Central Avenue. The Central Avenue Revitalization Plan must be realized in order to achieve the goal of a “unified vision for Central Avenue that allows the individual districts to develop and maintain their unique identities.”
Finally, our locally owned small businesses add to the character of our community. Promoting them will be one of my top priorities.
St. Petersburg is home to many unique, culturally rich, and historically significant neighborhoods. These neighborhoods deserve the full support of city hall.
As mayor, I will encourage effective and influential neighborhood associations by funding the Neighborhood Partnership Grants program and support staff and treating our Codes Compliance Assistance Department as a budget priority. As we continue to emerge from the economic downturn and related budget cuts, we must look to restore funding to the areas that were hit the hardest, and that includes Codes.
Further, we must expedite the demolition of condemned homes in order to reduce blight and make our neighborhoods safer.
Just as important as a safe, clean neighborhood is the neighborhood's identity, because a sense of belonging fosters pride. My goal is for each neighborhood or area to have its own vibe, to be its own destination. Visually appealing signage at neighborhood entrances and wayfaring signage in populated areas is an easy first step and a resource for both residents and visitors. But to truly strengthen the identity of a neighborhood we must better promote its distinct flavor and help tell its story.
Transparency and Accountability
The best way to earn the public’s trust and to be held accountable is through transparency. This has guided me throughout my time in public office. It’s why I implemented live streaming of council meetings on the City of St. Petersburg’s website. It’s why I have always had an open door policy.
As mayor, I will revamp StPete.org so that it’s user-friendly, highly interactive, and reflective of our community. The budget, in particular, should be easy to view and navigate.
It’s time that St. Petersburg’s Mayor, like so many other mayors, delivers an annual State of the City address to keep the public better informed. I will do that, and I will make myself and my staff available to the press on a regular basis.
We have never had more tools at our disposal to increase the public’s access to their elected officials. It’s time for government in the sunshine in The Sunshine City.
A strong public education system fuels our economic engine and has a positive impact on public safety. That’s why the mayor and all municipal leaders must work with our schools to help our young people succeed.
As a state representative, I passed legislation requiring the Department of Education to make service-learning curriculum available to our public schools. Integrating meaningful community service with instruction and reflection, service-learning enriches the learning experience, teaches civic responsibility, and strengthens communities. As mayor, I will work to have service-learning implemented in all of St. Petersburg's public schools.
I will continue and strengthen the Mayor’s Mentors & More program (now under the St. Pete’s Promise umbrella) and seek out additional community partners to assist with volunteering, resources, and strategic planning.
Planning for the Future
Change begins within. To me, the job of mayor isn’t just to maintain the status quo. It’s to be a problem-solver. It’s to be pro-active and innovative. It’s to listen, learn, and lead. Under my administration, nowhere will this be more apparent than within city hall.
My goal is a smarter, more efficient government – not a bigger one. As mayor, I will implement StPeteStat, based on the CitiStat model of statistics-driven accountability standards.
Building on the city’s current Scorecard measures, StPeteStat will consist of regular meetings, during which my staff and I will meet with department heads to examine and analyze past performance, future performance objectives, and overall performance strategies. Performance goals will be set, managers and workers will be held accountable, and results will be measured — not yearly, but monthly or even week-to-week.
And since citizen concerns are the basis of effective performance measurements, StPeteStat will incorporate the current Action Online – similar to how other cities have incorporated 311 non-emergency calls into their CitiStat programs.
Local governments all across America have increased efficiency and effectiveness while saving taxpayer money because of the CitiStat model.
I am running to prepare us for the future – especially with so many of our senior-level employees nearing retirement. That means making sure that every employee is working in a position that fits his or her skill set and maximizes his or her potential. It means eliminating unnecessary positions and redundancies and bringing in new talent to fill important gaps.
St. Petersburg is an extraordinary place. It has been that way since the first train arrived on Peter Demens’ Orange Belt Railway 125 years ago. Our city has celebrated dreamers, entrepreneurs and artists; it has welcomed retirees and embraced youth; it has been home to builders, to workers, to Americans of every background. All of them – and each of you – have helped our city become an extraordinary place to live. An extraordinary city with extraordinary people deserve the best government possible. It is my intent, with your help, to provide it.