On March 9, Gulfport voters will decide on two council seats, Ward 2 and Ward 4. In addition to the February 11 candidate debates, the Gabber will highlight each candidate with Q&A coverage. In this issue, we asked each of the five candidates the same introductory questions – from their plans for Gulfport to their hobbies and pets.
Gulfport City Council elections are city-wide – all eligible voters vote for each council seat. Council terms last two years.
Mike Bauer, Challenger Ward 2
Current occupation/work background: Retired from government work in policy and planning.
Education/degrees: BS-Biology, University of New Brunswick; MS-Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University; JD-(Law Degree), University of Washington; PhD-Environmental Policy & Planning, Virginia Tech.
Hobbies/personal interests: Gardening, painting, bicycling.
Organizations or other affiliations: Gulfport Sustainability Committee (Rain Garden Working Group); Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources Board.
How long have you lived in Gulfport: Four years.
Why did you move to Gulfport: For over a decade visiting Gulfport for ambiance, food, music, waterfront, location, daughter’s wedding reception at Casino. Moved here right after retiring.
Pets: Sophie, our gentle, loving, mixed terrier/beagle.
Favorite book: “The Once and Future King” (By T.H. White).
Your primary sources for state and national/world news: CNN, BBC, The Atlantic, WFLA.
Three albums would you bring to a deserted island: “Tapestry”; “Eagles Live”; “Changes In Latitude”.
If elected, what will be your first priority on council? The city needs to start planning now for sea level rise. This would mean working closely with the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition and using the science developed by the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel to do a city vulnerability assessment and then develop a resiliency plan.
What do you believe Gulfport Council can improve upon? Communication. I would like to increase community involvement in decisions that affect residents and businesses. I want to provide more access to city council with more office hours and a continuation of Zoom council meetings after COVID is long gone. I want to reach out to younger residents and get them more involved in government.
What do you believe Gulfport Council does well? It maintains a presence in the city. If you need something, everyone knows where to go and who to contact. Phone numbers, emails and a website provide adequate information, and residents and businesses know where the government offices are located.
If elected, what are your goals to be completed by the end of your term? The city has completed a vulnerability assessment and is developing a Sea Level Rise Resiliency Plan. The city has begun to alleviate parking problems. The city has designated a safe, easily walkable Cross Town Trail that links Wood Ibis Park to Clam Bayou via Clymer Park. Affordable housing for service industry employees is being addressed.
Christine Brown, Incumbent Ward 2
Current occupation/work background: Pinellas County mathematics teacher at Boca Ciega High School, 28.5 years.
Education/degrees: AA degree, St. Petersburg Junior College; BS Mathematics, Eckerd College; M.Ed with a major in Curriculum and Instruction, University of Florida.
Hobbies/personal interests: Family, sewing, jigsaw puzzles, volunteering.
Organizations or other affiliations: American Legion, Florida League of Cities, Suncoast League of Cities, CERT.
How long have you lived in Gulfport? 33 years.
Why did you move to Gulfport? As a Navy brat and moving all over the country, I was at a point in my life where planting roots was important to me. Gulfport drew me with the relaxed pace, close-knit feeling and refreshing energy.
Pets: Cockatiel named Nick.
Favorite book: “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.
Your primary sources for state and national/world news: Bay News 9.
Three albums would you bring to a deserted island: The Eagles, “Hell Freezes Over”; Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band, “Greatest Hits”; “Hamilton: An American Musical” original cast recording.
If elected, what will be your priority on council? I will work to find funding for the continued investment in the 49th Street corridor to include a new Public Safety Complex. Within my ward, I intend to see through the completion of the upcoming $2.6 million sanitary sewer bypass project along the waterfront and the marina. Properly functioning sewers are critical components in protecting our residents and our environment. I am committed to ensuring that funding for this program continues into the future.
What do you believe Gulfport Council can improve upon? It is important for us to continually improve the way we, as a city, balance old with new as it relates to community expectation. We have new folks choosing to move to Gulfport all the time with new ideas and cool vibes. I want to be open to their vision while still honoring our history and maintaining our community feel.
What do you believe Gulfport Council does well? For the benefit of our residents, businesses and community organizations, Gulfport works diligently to maintain our high quality of life by investing in our parks, infrastructure, roadways and facilities. This is best exemplified by the new people moving here and their level of investment. I believe that Gulfport’s future is bright.
If elected, what are your goals to be completed by the end of your term? By the end of my two-year team, I will work to keep our city financially solvent, complete the sanitary sewer bypass project, safeguard Gulfport’s unique identity for all who call Gulfport their home, build on our legacy as a full-service city in a fiscally responsible manner and maintain our low millage rate.
Michael Fridovich, Incumbent Ward 4
Current occupation/work background: Consultant with Dr. Otto von Feigenblatt and associates.
Education/degrees: Bachelor of Science in urban studies, Georgia State University; Masters Candidate in history, Georgia State University; honorary doctorate of laws, Catholic University of New Spain, Miami, Florida.
Hobbies/personal interests: Reading, movies – especially those from TCM. An infrequent kayaker, a bad golfer, cooking, writing and many more things.
Organizations or other affiliations: Tampa Bay Regional Council, PSTA board member; American Legion Post 125 Gulfport, Florida | The American Legion Centennial.
How long have you lived in Gulfport: Approximately 10 years.
Why did you move to Gulfport: Found it and stayed.
Pets: Three cats.
Favorite book: The book I’m going to read next.
Your primary sources for state and national/world news: BBC, CNN, Newsy TV, Channel 10 news and then I channel surf news stations.
Three albums would you bring to a deserted island: “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis; something by Ladysmith Black Mambazo; Queen.
If elected, what will be your first priority on council? To continue keeping the city financially sound.
What do you believe Gulfport Council can improve upon? As we can’t exchange ideas and work together due to Sunshine it falls to the individual member to have their own priorities.
What do you believe Gulfport Council does well? Keeping the city financially sound; maintaining and updating infrastructure; and keeping the full service capabilities.
If elected, what are your goals to be completed by the end of your term? To continue helping constituents with issues – not having a preordained agenda but taking each issue on its own.
Richard Fried, Challenger Ward 4
Current occupation/work background: I have been a healthcare worker for ten plus years. Currently, I work at an assisted living facility.
Education/degrees: I have studied healthcare and communication theory at the University of Southern Maine, Portland
Hobbies/personal interests: I enjoy movies and oddly, reading Supreme Court decisions.
Organizations or other affiliations: I threw my hat in the ring to be an appointed Gulfport Senior Center board member but was denied placement. I am currently a registered Democrat, but have been unable to attend Gulfport Democratic meetings. I follow National Nurses United: California; Minnesota.
How long have you lived in Gulfport: I have lived in Gulfport since August of 2007.
Why did you move to Gulfport: Gulfport reminded me of my earliest memories of Coconut Grove, FL. I liked the vibe.
Pets: None. I have been known to feed stray cats in the neighborhood.
Favorite book: There are so many: “Misery”; “Interview With a Vampire”; Katharine Graham’s autobiography, “Personal History”; the writings of Joseph Campbell.
Your primary sources for state and national/world news: NPR, PBS, BBC, Wall Street Journal on occasion. I do not get my news from Facebook or Twitter. I miss the vacancy of the reporting from the deaths of Gwen Ifill and Cokie Roberts.
Three albums would you bring to a deserted island: Tough question. Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”; Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”; Wham!’s “Make It Big.”
If elected, what will be your first priority on council? I will, by hook or by crook, see solar panels installed on city hall and other city buildings, guaranteed.
What do you believe Gulfport Council can improve upon? Open and public debate on issues before council between councilmembers as well as wading into the waters of regional and national issues and how they relate to the daily lives of Gulfportians. I believe the path to healing is recognizing accountability and our collective responsibility. We need to have a national conversation on institutionalized racism, beginning in our local communities. I will rescind the five-minutes limit on council comments which my opponent brought forth.
What do you believe Gulfport Council does well? Tamping down public dissent in the council chamber during free and public meetings. Maintaining the budget resources verses what is in the best interest of the public, and public services. Generally, when the current council sees a need, it is addressed.
If elected, what are your goals to be completed by the end of your term? I will complete a lateral line replacement code enforcement policy. This will be accomplished by making mandatory inspection of the lateral lines when buying or selling of homes/property within Gulfport city limits. The result of this action is informational; this will probably result in a negotiation between buyer and seller. I will also place into code a solar component for new builds, both commercial and residential.
Ian O’Hara, Challenger Ward 4
Current occupation/work background: Meat clerk.
Education/degrees: Undergraduate degree; Colonial American history M.A.; Sociology (effects of class structure on America) M.Sc.
Hobbies/personal interests: No response.
Organizations or other affiliations: Served on many boards – executive, and local church and community organizations
How long have you lived in Gulfport: 15 years.
Why did you move to Gulfport: It’s a great place to live, an attractive “Old Florida” community.
Pets: A dog (Lorenzo) and a cat (Wicked Kitty).
Favorite book: No response.
Your primary sources for state and national/world news: No response.
Three albums would you bring to a deserted island: No response.
If elected, what will be your first priority on council? My first priority is to examine the current state of local codes and regulations, and determine if more concise, straightforward improvements can be made that enable both individuals and businesses to achieve their goals as efficiently as possible. We must retain control over the character of our town while clarifying the processes for those wishing to participate in the expansion and/or improvement of Gulfport’s infrastructure.
What do you believe Gulfport Council can improve upon? I believe that we can improve upon communication between the dais and our citizens.
What do you believe Gulfport Council does well? I believe the council has managed our money well, and has followed our infrastructure plan to the best of its abilities.
If elected, what are your goals to be completed by the end of your term? I want to create clear, comprehensive documentation of all zoning codes and regulations that minimizes issues for anyone attempting to improve their property or businesses. I’d also like to clarify where Gulfport is regarding initiatives to mitigate stormwater and sewer flooding, and proceed as sensibility indicates to ensure improvement of our infrastructure as well as the health and safety of our residents.