Meet the Candidates: Gulfport

Gulfport is readying itself for the election of a city councilmember in Ward 1. The only candidate for Ward 3 is unopposed and will be councilmember by default. Gulfport councilmembers serve two-year terms. Elections will be held Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

Via email, the Gabber asked each candidate the same questions for this introduction, but will feature a more specific follow-up as we get closer to the election. Responses have been edited for style and grammar only. View filing records by clicking on the link below each candidates’ name.

Have a question for the candidates? 

The Gabber wants to hear from you! Please email your questions to Publisher@theGabber.com, with subject line “Election.” We will chose from your questions in our follow-up Q&A.

Ward 1

Dan Liedtke, incumbent and Vice-Mayor
(Click here for filing and initial disclosure)

What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a councilmember for the city of Gulfport?

Experience and a track record of accomplishments make me uniquely qualified in this race. In addition to serving the last six years on council I have also worked as an Information Technology consultant for several large governmental organizations. My efforts for Gulfport also include serving on the National League of Cities I.T. and Communications Federal Advocacy Board and The Florida League of Cities Transportation and Intergovernmental Relations Policy Committee. This is how we ensure our voice is heard in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. while building lasting relationships with other legislatures at the same time.

2017 was another year full of progress where our council served the citizens of Gulfport well. Every playground has been replaced, new nautical lighting adorns the downtown and Wood Ibis Park and many road/alley improvements have been completed or are in process. We completed the Gulfport Municipal Marina Expansion Project, Shore Boulevard improvements, 49th Street Outfall project, and we also continue to direct a lot more attention to aging infrastructure. Many of these accomplishments were made possible by our determined approach at going after federal, state and county grants. Winning grants with quality projects helps get a lot done without affecting the existing millage rate.

What are the top three key issues that the city of Gulfport is facing? Explain why each issue is key and how you believe it can be addressed.

When it comes to identifying our top priorities, simply look at where we are investing the money. Most of our budget is made up with funds for public safety (police and fire), and infrastructure.

The primary purpose of our local government is to provide for the health and safety of its citizens. Addressing issues with our public infrastructure, including roadways, sanitary sewers and storm water management remain ongoing priorities with increased funding (including loans and grants) already allocated for accelerated repairs. We have been working the sewer issues for years and are ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with the challenges. However, countywide we still need 1 billion dollars to address all the issues with our underground aging infrastructure. We can continue to address these issues with proper funding, a maintained sense of urgency and quality oversight of the work being performed.

Bruce Plesser
(Click here for filing and initial disclosure)

What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a councilmember for the city of Gulfport?

It is time for a change in Gulfport. Gulfport is a wonderful city but the city is at a crossroad. Who are we and what do we want the city to be? Gulfport is small but it is sophisticated. The time is ripe for a change of perspective. I have spent years on the outside of politics, offering opinions and suggestions on crime, infrastructure, parking, code enforcement, and the environment and and it is time for me to join the political process as a candidate for Ward I.

My background as a high level prosecutor and private attorney have trained me to ask critical questions to come to a consensus answer. My constituents will know where I stand and how decisions are made.

I am in favor of term limits. I litigated a constitutional term limit case five years ago. The case was decided in the highest court in New York. Constituents are not served by incumbents being re-elected by virtue of their incumbency.

I live in Town Shores where I have been a delegate at the Kenmore Building and the Kenmore representative to the Master Board for many years. I have offered opinions about the state of our communities’ affairs and will continue to do so on a city level if I am elected as Ward 1 representative.

What are the top three key issues that the city of Gulfport is facing? Explain why each issue is key and how you believe it can be addressed.

What do the citizens of Gulfport see as our character? It seems clear to me that most of us want to us to stay quirky, as I do, but time does not stand still. The Gulfport of yesteryear will not be the Gulfport of tomorrow. There will always be a tension between keeping Gulfport “weird” and recognizing economic realities. That balance and even that discussion needs to improve.

Sewage and infrastructure have been addressed within the past several years. If it had been addressed earlier, our sewers would not need the extent of repairs that we need now. I would learn about the extent of the damage to our sewers and relay that information to the public. I would adhere to a forward thinking philosophy about how the instant gratification of new building affects our over-taxed sewage system and I would try to prevail upon businesses and code enforcement that laws that were designed to protect our streets and our health are enforced.

The budget process is complicated and detailed. I would look at each budget item and ask questions to insure that our scarce resources are spent wisely.

Ward 3 

Only one candidate qualified to run for the open Ward 3 seat, so Paul Ray will be the next councilmember for this ward by default.  

Paul Ray
(Click here for filing and initial disclosure)

What makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a councilmember for the city of Gulfport?

Not only did I campaign for city council in the past but I have stayed involved within the city. Since that time I have served on the Merchants Association Board of Directors, coordinated the annual fund raiser “Dine Out For Life,” coordinated the GMA’s presence in the Pride Parade and the festival, designed and built the grow boxes for the Senior Centers, planted trees in Clymer Park, contributed to the Community Garden, held events for donations to the Gulfport Senior Center, volunteered driving the GetGo, volunteered at Junk in the Trunk, Mayors’ Cleanup, among many other services to the Gulfport community. I am of the belief that involvement should always be part of caring for the community you are part of. In addition to the civic involvement I also championed a council’s involvement in officially speaking out on climate change impact on vulnerable coastal cities such as Gulfport. I would like to say that I have been both an ear and a voice for the people of Gulfport on various issues over the last four-plus years and I believe that experience and my connection to the people of Gulfport uniquely qualifies me to represent them on the council.

What are the top three key issues that the city of Gulfport is facing? Explain why each issue is key and how you believe it can be addressed.

Infrastructure: The current condition of our sewers and storm drainage systems certainly rise to the top of the key issues. The city has made progress in addressing the issue but I think we need to become even more proactive in trying to get ahead of the curve on the continuously deteriorating infrastructure, including matching funds for lateral pipe replacement.

Keeping Gulfport a Full Service City: Keeping our first responders local has many benefits to the residents in both keeping the feel of the small town as well as known representation should a problem arise. A council person needs to continue to be effective in their stewardship on budgeting and planning to ensure this.

Keeping the Look and Feel of Gulfport: This has risen to the top of issues of late and understandably so. I would like to see the city management, businesses and residents work together on comprehensive wording that would be agreeable to help manage the future changes to stay in tune with the perceived look and feel. We may not be able to stop change but we can manage it.

One comment

  1. Gulfport needs to enforce their codes and stop illegal short term rentals. Property owners who “favor” their illegal short term rentals to City officials and business owners for City “favors” must be stopped.

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