TRANSPORTATION AND TRANSIT
I believe that my 35+ years of experience as an urban and community planner in the public and private sector can be an valuable asset for the Tampa Bay Region. Hillsborough County is the center of our region and we need to work hard to provide good transportation, land use, and fiscal choices that fit who we are as a community. We are at a critical crossroads and I want to be a voice for good solid decisions to make our community a better more prosperous place. Good transportation, both local and regional are a prime key to accomplishing that.
Our neighborhoods are the heart of our community. We need to protect and enhance them through good planning as we move into the future. We need to make them as safe and livable as possible while respecting the character of diverse neighborhoods. Hillsborough County can do better in implementing and providing resources to improve the appearance of our community through creative ideas that can use resources in a more focused way. No community in Hillsborough County is like another. They need plans tailored to the charms of each area. I believe our citizens have the ideas to solve these issues. We just need to listen to them.
We really need to understand the importance of providing opportunities for all our citizens. The Tampa Bay Regional Partnership recently completed an excellent study comparing us to other peer metropolitan areas. We are not doing as well as we should in percent of our labor force between the ages of 25-64 and the quality of jobs available. Hillsborough County, in partnership with public and private sector entities, needs to move forward to provide better job training for non-college bound students and work on our transit system to provide more opportunities for people to access jobs.
One of the major problems we are facing is a low high school graduation rate. While the school board has responsibility for most educational issues Hillsborough County can help by extending and providing additional support for the Head Start programs, which have proven successful. It is critical that a young child’s first experience with school is positive, which in the long run can affect the graduation rates. At the same time, we need to provide more technical based class opportunities for students not college bound. We need to increase the opportunities for our children to succeed.
One the prime reasons for our housing affordability issue the gap between average salary and average home cost. This goes back to the educational and transportation issues. We have got to do a better job of connecting our citizens to more employment possibilities by providing good transit service both locally and regionally. We also need to provide more opportunity for lower cost housing, while doing in depth research into past income ratios to consider increasing the minimum wage to a level that will allow our residents to afford housing for their families.