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Candidate responses

By Times Editorial
Published January 25, 2008


EDITOR'S NOTE: The following responses were received from two Safety Harbor City Commission candidates after the St. Petersburg Times recommended their opponents. Nadine Nickeson and Mark Taylor are competing for Seat 3; the Times recommended Nickeson. In the Seat 4 race, the Times recommended Nina Bandoni over her opponent, Robin Fornino. The election is Tuesday.

Robin L. Fornino

In response to the St. Petersburg Times opinion recommending my opponent for Safety Harbor City Commission Seat 4, I provide the following clarifications on my experience and positions.

My experience in environmental issue resolution includes seven years in developing and managing major environmental programs for New York City. As such, my job included highly technical and legal interpretations, dealing with city officials (including the NYC City Council), regulated companies and neighborhoods equally. I can assure you that collaboration between these various concerns requires consensus, a clear understanding of the impacts of all decisions, and a strong, detailed and focused communication style. As a result, I received high praise and respect from regulatory agencies, community members and business people. One should not misjudge a strong, clear voice as lacking a "collaborative approach."

My environmental experience includes another nine years with a national consultant, again managing very large projects. I left as an associate partner, which should suggest that I can get things done for private clients while addressing very complicated needs and satisfying regulators. I chose to end my association to begin a career better suited to raising my newborn son.

Finally, my last nine years of experience in financial services especially qualify me to deal with critical fiscal concerns looming in the near future.

I am highly critical of recent votes by the City Commission because they do not respond to many citizens' voiced concerns. Further, the current commission chooses not to solicit feedback from residents when clearly appropriate. For example, the commission has not shown that the decision to sell a piece of city-owned property is in the best interests of residents. Nor did they even ask what residents thought. I believe each commissioner should defend their decisions and recommendations. I expect the same of press opinion columns.

Choosing a city commissioner should not be a popularity contest, rather should be based on issues of concern and who can stand firm for all the city's residents. I hope this helps voters in their decision in a very critical time for the city's business owners, residents, fragile development and environment.

Mark W. Taylor

This is a response to the St. Petersburg Times endorsement of Nadine Nickeson for Safety Harbor City Commission Seat 3 in the upcoming election on Tuesday.

Our city is at a crossroads in a time where a true vision and focus is needed as we approach a new decade in which our city will celebrate its 100th birthday. My opponent is running a campaign based on stability and experience, while I am concentrating on change and progress that our community can take pride in. This is a time for me to step up and be a voice of integrity and reason that will help unite our town in a period that requires a new perspective.

I have committed myself to the issues currently at hand and on the horizon and I will bring the personal and fiscal responsibility to our city government that all citizens can look upon favorably.

I envision a community that is family oriented, walkable and economically vibrant. Steps have been taken in the right direction and we need to move forward and implement ideas that will continue that path. Our downtown district should be filled with businesses that help sustain small town charm - a business community that thrives and becomes a destination, not a cut-through. I also foresee an expansion of our public parks and recreation services, one of the best in the county.

During my interview with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board, I stated clearly several positions to some direct questions. I clearly support the upcoming library expansion project, which was approved at the Jan. 22 commission meeting. I am also in favor of preserving and adding green space to our city with the Phillippe Parkway beautification project.

I am against the rezoning of property on the south side of Mullet Creek bridge. This was changed recently to allow an office building to be built in a residential area against the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board. I also am not in favor of selling city-owned property. In fact, I am strongly in favor of trying to acquire land that the city can use.

I would like to thank the Times for the candidate interview and the space to respond to its candidate recommendation. I ask that you consider your options as you vote on Tuesday. Help me help you be your voice on the commission.

[Last modified January 25, 2008, 01:38:22]

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