In part one of a three-part series, The Gabber asked candidates for Gulfport City Council to talk about Gulfport issues.
The Gabber asked the five candidates for Gulfport City Council to answer five questions. Over the next three weeks, we’ll print their answers. Candidates had 24 hours to answer, as successful candidates will make decisions in real time during meetings. We also gave candidates a word count; when the candidate ran over, we cut the word count at the specified length and indicated as much. We have edited only for syntax and spelling.
What are the key issues facing Gulfport, and how – specifically – will you tackle them? (200 words)
Michael Fridovich, incumbent
Between the lack of home rule and Supreme Court our hands are tied on many issues. What we can and I have always done is to continue working on our streets, sewers and sidewalks, etc.
Ian O’Hara, challenger
The key issues facing Gulfport are lack of clarity, lack of communication, lack of accessibility, and lack of lobbying In Tallahassee for things we need to fight for.
Christine Brown, incumbent
Gulfport is a full-service city. Police, Fire, Public Works, Library, Recreation Center, Senior Center, Marina, Playgrounds, Beach, Theater, Casino, Community Development. 12,000 residents, 68 miles of roads, 32 miles of unpaved alleyways, recreational fields and more than a dozen buildings to maintain. I believe that a full-service city supports our sense of community, our lifestyle, and our high level of personal service.
I want to continue working to preserve Gulfport’s unique identity, build our legacy as a full-service city, and maintain our low millage rate which has remained the same 4.039 mils for 11 years. For the benefit of our residents, businesses, and community organizations it is important for our city to continue to maintain our high quality of life by investing in the priorities that are important to residents.
I am dedicated to working closely with the city manager to ensure our financial sustainability by continuously monitoring the fiscal environment and financial forecasts to approve a conservative budget that balances the public service needs with the available resources of the city. The City of Gulfport makes every effort to provide a full range of valuable essential services, so each resident can lead a positive, healthy, active, and rewarding life.
Christopher Butler-Jones, challenger
Gulfport needs to improve in the way it communicates with the community. City Hall needs to be clear and transparent with citizens and to keep people up-to-date with what’s going on, whether it’s good, bad, or anywhere in between. Voices need to be heard; phone calls and e-mails need to be answered in a timely manner.
I’d like to have regular town hall meetings for the whole city (and not just for my ward). Anything that would allow City Hall to better know what the people want and need would be amazing improvement – especially if it would also bring the community and give neighbors an opportunity to know each other.
Greg Simek, challenger
The number one issue facing Gulfport is affordability. Rents are increasing two times or more on units that haven’t been updated since the landlords bought them in the 1980s. For all the rhetoric about “keeping Gulfport Gulfport” it is important to acknowledge that the folks who can currently afford the steep $500/square foot price tag do not define the city’s historical identity.
Rather, it’s the artists, musicians, and dedicated workforce who have largely sculpted Gulfport’s eclecticism and charm. They are all getting priced out and moving away, which in turn jeopardizes our city’s character. The affordability issues have been going on for three years and the current Council’s piece-de-resistance has been to reactively sign the county’s laughable “Tenant Bill of Rights” which is significant only in that it now requires landlords to provide a 60-day instead of a 30-day notice window for rent increases. Yep, that’ll really solve the crisis (j/k)!
On my website gulfportforward.com I itemize multiple solutions including strategic density increases to create missing middle housing, disincentivizing derelict properties from remaining nonproductive, and allowing accessory dwelling units on a broader spectrum of permissible lots.
Next week: Diversity and parking downtown.