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St. Petersburg Council Member District 1

The city of St. Petersburg operates under a strong mayor and city council system. The St. Petersburg City Council is the non-partisan governing body of the City. The Council is responsible for legislating ordinances and resolutions, approving the city budget, appointing the charter review commission, and establishing a code of ethics for the city government and city employees. The Council consists of eight Council Members, elected from each of the eight districts of the City. Elections for the City Council are held in odd-numbered years, usually with each election including four of the eight districts. In 2021, in addition to elections for Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8, there will be an election for District 1 because the seated Councilmember resigned his seat in order to run for another office. In the general election, all eligible city voters vote "at large" for the candidates running in all of the Districts that are on the ballot.Term: 4 yearsSalary: $48,079

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  • Candidate picture

    Copley Gerdes

  • Candidate picture

    Bobbie Shay Lee

Información Biográfica

What character traits, views and experiences do you possess that best qualify you for this seat on the St. Petersburg City Council? (600 characters)

Would you support a Tropicana Field redevelopment proposal that included a stadium for a part-time team? Why or why not? (600 characters)

What are your plans for increasing resiliency in Coastal High Density areas, flood zones, areas affected by sewage overflow, and areas affected by stormwater management issues? (600 characters)

The Tampa Bay Times has reported that "the state Legislature put in controls on how often and how much local governments can increase impact fees." This may affect St. Petersburg’s ability to ensure adequate infrastructure to accommodate new buildings and development, such as water, sewage, environmental protection, transportation, and more. How do you plan to balance new development and adequate infrastructure to ensure quality of life in St. Petersburg? (600 characters)

Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly half of renter households and one-quarter of owner-occupied households in Pinellas County spend 30% or more of their income on housing. As rental and home prices continue to rise rapidly, describe one creative solution you’d support to increase the availability and attainability of affordable housing in St. Petersburg. (600 characters)

Many people in St. Petersburg are reliant on low-wage jobs. What steps would you take to promote living wages and fair labor standards in the city for these workers? (600 characters)

Preliminary findings of a USF study on structural racism in St. Petersburg indicate a history of city policies that have resulted in racial disparities that currently impact Black residents. What steps would you take to address racial equity in the city? (600 characters)

There are 7 amendments to the St Petersburg City Charter on the ballot this year. Which amendment do you feel most strongly about and why?

Campaign Website http://www.VoteGerdes.com
Email Address Copley@VoteGerdes.com
Phone (727) 480-1113
Education Saint Leo University, B.A. - Religious Studies.
Professional Experience Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, a Business Analyst with FrankCrum Inc, and an Assistant Baseball Coach at Saint Leo University.
Public Service In his free time, he volunteers with organizations around the city including the Police Athletic League and his church. He and his wife run a charity called Love McKinley which supports families fighting pediatric cancer.
I believe that we can build a stronger city and take on the challenges we face when we work together. My career as a financial advisor has given me the skills to prepare St Pete for a prosperous future. I also volunteer my time with the Police Athletic League supporting our young people and the Community Planning and Preservation Committee to preserve our city’s unique character.
Any plan with the Trop site needs to be thoughtfully considered based on how it benefits the people of St Petersburg. If a part-time team arrangement is a financial winner for the city - of course I would consider it. I won’t support any plan that equates to a handout for a professional sports team and any proposal needs to do more for St Pete than provide a place for the Rays to play ball.
I applaud the efforts outlined in the Stormwater Management Plan, but there are so many other pieces of our city that are in desperate need of repairs, updates, or capital investments too. I’d also like to advocate for strict compliance with standards outlined by StPete2050 - specifically the importance of proper development and disaster plans. City Council should prioritize plans that meet those standards when approving new developments.
St Pete needs to get creative to work around the restrictions Tallahassee has levied on local governments. We can also work with our federal partners to make needed improvements to our infrastructure. Above all else - the city needs to take ownership of these issues and communicate with constituents about why these investments are necessary to maintain our quality of life.
The city should focus on building denser, multi-family and multi-use buildings where necessary around urban centers. We would benefit by connecting these centers with well managed transit systems that make moving between them easier and more efficient. Outside of those urban centers, we should look at modern ideas for single family housing that is both affordable and is an effective use of space.
Anyone who works 40 hours a week shouldn’t struggle to make ends meet. I applaud the work of the council to implement the Responsible Contractor provisions. It’s our responsibility, as a city, to set an example with the hopes that these standards will be adopted by local private businesses as well. People are the backbone of every company and business, they should be invested in as such.
We can’t, and shouldn’t, ignore our past and the ways our policies have impacted our Black residents. Righting that wrong will take an “all-of-the-above” approach. I favor making significant infrastructure investments in South St Pete and prioritize local hiring for those projects, but we also need to partner with our school board, our state partners, and nonprofits to lift up our neighbors.
Amendment 1, which would create district General Elections in St Petersburg, will shape our city's trajectory for decades. I see strong arguments on both sides of this issue. Running city-wide means I need to earn the support of, and work to the benefit of, all of St Petersburg - but there are serious questions about fairness when city-wide voters can reject the overwhelming choice of a district's voters. Races that do not meet the 50 percent threshold should go to a General Election as the final say. I believe the more local our representatives are, the better. That's why I'll be voting yes.
Phone (727) 371-5522
Education MSW in Policy and Administration, Florida State University BSW, Clinical Social Work, Florida Atlantic University
Professional Experience I have been national spokesperson and breast cancer advocate for 2 decades. In 1999 through 2001 I represented TECO, Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas at both the local and state level. I have served as Executive Director of two non-profit organizations, and a published contributing writer for Huffington Post and Everyday Health.
Public Service I have served on the boards of Casa, Brookwood, and NCADD. I have been active with Nourish to Flourish and Beth's Closet of The Beth Dillinger Foundation for the last 8 years.
Throughout my life I have been a public servant. I have been a national spokesperson, an executive director of two nonprofit agencies, and sat on numerous boards including CASA, Brookwood, and NCADD. I do not approach my work seeking recognition or awards, I just do what needs to be done to improve the lives of others. I bring to the table years of experience working within local, state, and federal government on various projects, representing very diverse groups.
I support what the residents of St. Petersburg want. I hear resoundingly that this community wants to keep the Rays here. Should we need to make decisions about how to fund a new stadium I do not support adding a tax burden without a referendum, that is for the people to decide. I also believe the site should provide the opportunity to raise the profile of St. Petersburg, attract new business, and generate revenue year-round.
We need a comprehensive strategic plan addressing sewage and infrastructure upgrades. It is time to develop clear measurable goals, cost analysis, and timeline for upgrades. While that is being determined, we need to bring the Albert Whitted Wastewater Treatment Plant back online. In addition, using renewable and reusable energy sources are essential. Homeowners need to be reminded about the importance of weather-proofing homes, recycling, reducing food waste and reducing water waste.
We must put our priorities on a strategic infrastructure plan and focus on public safety. I would also like to see a more transparent understanding of the city’s spending. I understand affordable housing will continue to be an important conversation, and I welcome that. We need a balance new development with the ongoing need to support those small businesses that have survived an incredibly difficult 18 months. Current leadership has a proven track record of making bad business decisions, uncontrolled spending, and paying exuberant fines and restitution due to poor management. We need change.
I would love to see a plan with a focus on assisting those living at 80%-120% below AMI including our first responders, teachers, and nonprofit professional. These residents hold some of the most important roles in our community with minimal pay. I encourage further discussions that expands the opportunity of home ownership opportunities, bringing with it personal investments in our communities, and empowering our residents to feel as though they belong.
Minimum wage was never intended to be a living wage. Trade schools are an essential part of empowering individuals to reach new potential. It is not just about making more money; it is about encouraging trades that our community needs today and will continue to rely on in the future.
I have been working with, and advocating for, individuals with health disparities for the last two decades. Until you have walked in the shoes of someone who has been impacted by these disparities, been shut out of the process, and desperate for resources you will not understand. In these cases, it is not always based on race. Your measure of worth is the insurance card you hold. Understanding and investigating the depth of any disparities is the first step forward. I believe the city council still has work to do in understanding where to begin.
Amendment 5: Requiring the city manager to live within the city limits is important to understanding and serving our residents. This amendment change ensures that the city clerk does not simply serve at the pleasure of the mayor. Local government should require systems of checks and balance to aid in its transparency.