Let’s stay focused

Corey Givens

Dear Editor:

This week, thousands of ballots will be mailed out to voters across the city. This election will be decided within the next three weeks. So that means we must step up our efforts to educate and engage voters based on the issues.

It’s time we end the political rhetoric and begin focusing on creating quality affordable housing, living wage paying jobs and educational equity for all. A countless number of unwarranted distractions this election cycle have prevented us from focusing on the real issues plaguing our communities.

We have a strong chance at winning this race for the people, but we can’t allow our focus to be dismayed or distracted. Those individuals focused solely on themselves and their egos will go head-to-head fighting to justify the political agendas. In the meantime, we must be diligent in our quest to fight for sustainable economic development for neighborhoods south of Central Avenue.

It doesn’t take a developer or a rocket scientist to notice the blight we are forced to live in on the south side. Small measures have been taken to address the economic inequality within Midtown, but not enough effective policies have been enacted to produce the revitalization needed to support the neighborhoods we call home. There’s been too much focus on the politics and not enough focus on the people.

Poverty and residential segregation have disenfranchised African Americans for generations. According to a study conducted by the Economic Policy Institute in 2013, nearly 45 percent of black children live in neighborhoods with a high concentration of poverty, but only 12 percent of white children live in similar conditions.

It’s easy for folks who aren’t a part of our community to look-in from the outside and tell us what we need and how to fix our problems; but it takes someone who’s been immersed in the work and focused on resolving the issues to deliver tangible results to the hardworking residents in South St. Pete.

Our problems are broad and complex – a lack of access to quality food, shortage of affordable housing and high-wage paying jobs. Your vote and willingness to educate yourself on these core issues will be the determining factor in this election. We can’t expect the problems to fix themselves; we have to be committed to doing the work ourselves.

Last week, a candidate for the highest-ranking public office position in the City of St. Petersburg made a public embarrassment of our town. I’m not surprised by his remarks; he simply exposed what so many other racist individuals only say behind closed doors. What baffled me was the silence of our elected officials and candidates following those comments.

We can’t allow such bigoted words to cause us to lose focus on the central theme of this election cycle – genuine economic development for all underdeveloped communities within St. Petersburg. We should not set the stage for such hate and evil. Rather, let’s gear all of our energy and attention towards making sure that we vote in the best interest our children and their future.

Corey Givens, Jr.

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