Thank you for engaging, caring about the direction of our city, and for voting in our city’s upcoming municipal election. Your vote is powerful, for there’s never been more at stake. This election will decide whether St. Pete moves forward and continues to makes progress, or turns back to a time of a higher crime and less opportunity. I vote for moving forward. So does President Barack Obama, who endorsed my candidacy. I hope you will, too.
Moving forward is what we’re all about in St. Pete. It’s been the focus of my campaign. The Baker Campaign, however, was designed not just to turn back the clock, but to tear me down and our community apart. It started on day one when Mr. Baker described our community as one in shambles and it has continued through his latest communication, an ad with more falsehoods than a Donald Trump tweet storm.
The commercial claimed our new pier is over budget (it’s not), my staff budget is $4.2 million (it isn’t), hurricane debris threatens our health (it doesn’t), and that bike paths, playgrounds, and scholarships for kids have suffered (they haven’t). In fact, we’re becoming a friendlier city for pedestrians and cyclists, expanded our park system, and have never been more focused on our youth.
My campaign remains focused on the issues, no matter what Mr. Baker or his Republican Party allies throw our way in these final weeks. Yes, we will continue to highlight the sharp contrasts that exist between Mr. Baker and me, such as his silence in the face of Donald Trump’s many divisive remarks and attacks on minority communities, but we will also continue to tout my record and vision for the future.
I will continue to reflect the inherent optimism of our residents. I will work every day to make St. Pete a true city of opportunity, where the sun shines on all who come to live, work, and play. Those words are found in our city’s vision statement, but more importantly, are illustrated in the policies I’ve implemented such as ‘ban the box’, paid parental leave for both moms and dads, second chances for minors who commit misdemeanors, and a higher minimum wage. It is illustrated in our community redevelopment area, which has already generated nearly $800,000 in grants. My opponent loves to talk about bringing a Sweetbay grocery store to Tangerine Plaza, but what good is a grocery store without the money to shop there?
Fortunately, the tide is finally turning. Recent U.S. Census data shows St. Pete’s African American poverty rate is at an all-time low. This didn’t happen by accident. It is the result of a people-focused approach and unprecedented cooperation between elected officials, non-profit organizations, clergy, and countless community leaders. More than ever, I am convinced that there is no stopping us when we put aside egos and work together to lift up the most vulnerable in our community.