St. Petersburg is divided by two realities, one is characterized by opportunity and the other dominated by injustice.
In order to bring about unity in our city, we need a positive public policy of economic development for the city’s black communities, to level the playing field and right the historic wrongs.
With a $500 million budget, the city of St. Petersburg has ample room to redirect resources to economically uplift and develop the black community. Discretionary funds can easily be allocated from Penny for Pinellas and the major corporations can pay a reparations tax.
The black population makes up 23 percent of our city, but is disproportionately impacted by overwhelming conditions of poverty, homelessness and police containment. With nearly 20,000 people living in the South Side of St Petersburg struggling below the federal poverty line, reparations and economic justice for the black community must be the highest priority for our city’s agenda. St. Petersburg cannot call itself a progressive city unless economic injustice for the black community is addressed and resolved.
The high cost of rent, skyrocketing property taxes, and low minimum wages have made St. Petersburg increasingly unaffordable for many families. Under Rick Kriseman, the city has wasted resources, granted tax breaks and given preferential treatment to Kriseman’s big money backers. Kriseman has overrun St. Petersburg with a glut of high-rise condominiums in an attempt to attract upscale investors at the expense of our communities.
It is time to redistribute resources to benefit the neighborhoods of the people who live here and who have a stake in seeing our city prosper and develop for all, not for the few at the expense of the many. We need to build participatory democracy that puts the power of government back into the neighborhoods.
In the face of rampant and publicized police violence against black communities throughout the United States and here in St. Petersburg, a practical and democratic solution is black community control of the police in the black community. The police would be controlled by a democratically elected community council with the power to hire, fire, train and discipline officers who are part of and have a stake in uplifting the community.
Black community control of police, combined with economic development, will make it possible to drastically reduce the already bloated budget of the police department that discriminatorily targets black people. The St Petersburg police currently receives more funding than any other department with over one-fifth of the city’s overall budget at more than $100 million annually. We can create real public safety for all who live here by replacing a negative public policy of police containment with a positive public policy of economic development and self-determination.
The city’s infrastructure must be redesigned fundamentally to adequately process the sewage especially in the storm season. We as communities of St. Petersburg will come together with those affected by this crisis to find solutions to these problems.
We will open an investigation into the criminality of Mayor Rick Kriseman’s mishandling and cover-up of repeatedly releasing over 256 million gallons of raw untreated sewage into Clam Bayou and the Tampa Bay that contaminated neighborhoods, beaches, homes and ecosystems, causing a serious public health and environmental crisis.
We will investigate the scapegoating of city workers who were terminated by Kriseman to cover up his own role in this scandal.
We will build a healthy economy in this city that doesn’t tolerate real estate speculation by those outside of a neighborhood at the expense of its residents.
The black community should not be forced out of this city to benefit gentrifiers and land speculators. We will allocate resources to aid black and low-income homeowners to stay in their houses and improve them. We support community commerce, home ownership and rent control.
Unlike past administrations that have abdicated responsibility for the failing school system, we as a city can make a commitment to come together and fight for the Pinellas County school board to re-allocate resources to repair our schools.
We have a stake in transforming St Petersburg’s schools, which are infamous throughout the country as “failure factories” where black children face the second-to-lowest graduation rate in Florida and are victimized by police presence. Our schools must become centers of quality education for all children.
We will investigate and put an end to the racial discrimination and harassment of black city workers in the Fire Department, the Water Resources Department, and the Police Department.
We will increase the hourly wage for all city workers to a minimum of $15 per hour.
We want true transparency and participatory democracy. The people should have the power to determine how the city’s budget is used. We will take big money out of St. Petersburg politics. Our city’s leaders must be accountable to the people, not to corporations.
Kriseman has used his position as mayor to enrich himself and his inner circle by spending over $440,000 on his office, including giving himself a 3% salary raise in 2015. When elected mayor, Jesse will cut the mayor’s salary by $100,000 and turn those resources over to reparations and economic development.
by providing affordable housing and innovative community-based solutions for homeless people to have control over their own lives. We will put an immediate end to the police harassment, abuse and criminalization of the homeless population.
We will build an effective, low-cost, and accessible public transportation system that takes people where they need to go and unites the city. We will make our city bicycle and pedestrian-friendly. We will end discriminatory police attacks on black bicyclists.
We will develop a supportive environment for veterans and programs to help them transition smoothly back into society.
We must transform Pinellas County from a place with the highest prescription pill overdose rate in the country to one with the highest rate of recovery. Drug addiction must be decriminalized for all – not just for the white people while black residents are treated as criminals.
We must create a culture in which the disabled can contribute as active members of our society. Social programs, cultural and recreational centers, home health services, public transportation, affordable housing, and support for families of disabled people must be funded and developed to end the daily, horrible offenses committed against our disabled community who are forced to suffer in isolation.
We will defend and uphold the rights of all LGBTQIA people in St. Petersburg, regardless of status, income or race. The community will come together to build solutions for the rising rates of homelessness and suicide amongst LGBTQIA youth.
We want to build affordable housing for seniors and develop a culture that respects our elders.
Remove all barriers to employment for people with felonies applying for work within city limits. Create a workforce development program to assist formerly incarcerated people in seeking meaningful employment.
We will make St. Petersburg a real sanctuary city and prohibit local police, hospital workers and city departments from collaborating with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) who are deporting immigrants and tearing immigrant families apart.
Historically, St. Petersburg has thrived on its tourist industry. We will ensure that all of St. Petersburg’s communities benefit from tourism rather than be exploited by it. A socially, economically and environmentally just St. Petersburg will unleash a cultural renaissance that will attract tourists and visitors.
We want to build community gardening projects not tied to gentrification and neighborhood crime watch policing efforts. We will allocate land in each community for community gardens controlled by the people who live there to meet their own needs and end the food deserts specifically in the black community.
We stand for universal health care for all people. We want to create a city where community acupuncture and other alternative approaches to health care are affordable and available to all.