What brings you to Tallahassee? I moved to Tallahassee for my first job years ago after getting my journalism degree from the University of Missouri. I worked at the Tallahassee Democrat for a while, left for several years, worked for other newspapers, moved to Miami and eventually – happily -returned to work there many years before resigning to run for the Leon County Commission in 2012.
What do you want visitors and locals to know about Tallahassee that they may not already know? I think many are surprised at how much there is to do here, the wide variety of opportunities from sports and outdoor recreation to the arts, both formal and funky, and how its universities and state government and young professionals create a dynamic community of thought and politics.
How has Tallahassee evolved over the years? When I was writing columns three times a week for the newspaper, one of my favorite themes was change, which is a constant. The biggest one I notice maybe 15 years ago was how Tallahassee had changed from a place where people moved looking for a nice family town with job opportunities largely in state government to a small city where people expected to find more of the amenities of large cities, more sophistication and opportunities for young professionals, singles, entrepreneurs and the so-called “active retiree.”Local government has been compelled to partner with efforts to enhance these new ways of growing our community and its quality of life while retaining the charm and beautiful environment that has always made this region of Florida unique and special.
What made you want to run for office? Having been a journalist writing about local government and community issues for many years, public policy and community issues were always a big interest of mine. It seemed a natural evolution for me to want to not only write about and champion issues in print, but also to be in a position where I could more actively make changes through initiating and voting for changes and solutions to problems.
What are your goals if elected? My focus in the last two years and what I hope to continue advancing has been on job creation in the skilled trades and careers that don’t require a college degree. Under my initiative we started Leon Works in collaboration with many community partners and the public schools to help high school students see that they have choices far beyond either flipping burgers or going to college, which about 60 percent of high school students don’t plan to attend for myriad reasons. Also, well paying jobs are going wanting for the skilled work force that we need to focus on more. Job creation is so essential because it liberates people to live their lives with some security, interest, personal growth and ability to give back to their communities.I am also anticipating an instrumental role in the economic-development portion of our Blueprint sales tax extension. That means finding ways toretain our quality of life, nurturing it as a place of environmental, recreational, historic and creative assets and that is a place that is safe. Local government is increasingly a catalyst, convener and partner of private business, nonprofits, individuals and agencies that all contribute to the dynamic of this place I love calling home. One of our biggest challenges is the income disparity and opportunity disparity here and I will be focusing on better job opportunities for youth, safer streets, better housing and healthcare.
What social media do you use?
I use Facebook primarily, with some Twitter and LinkedIn communications.
As an elected official, email remains my main form of interaction with citizens here. I’m a “people person” with a long career in the media but I nevertheless prefer social interaction with actual people!
Describe Tallahassee in 5 words or less (here’ a kind of abbreviated haiku)
Move away; long to return