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By BRYAN GILMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- When Jim Gary and his wife decided that St. Petersburg would be their long-term home, Gary decided to run for a seat on the City Council.
"It's time to put a little back," said Gary, 41. "I think my attitude and beliefs would suit St. Petersburg well."
Gary advocates protecting the environment, especially water resources, increasing voter participation and working for "social justice," Gary said.
He is seeking the District 5 council seat, as are Robert Eschenfelder and James Bennett.
Gary lives and operates Homework Ink Inc., his small document conversion and computer networking business, at 5458 28th St. S. The company helps others submit electronic filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gary and his wife, Dena, have a 19-month-old son.
Gary gained political experience as the media chairman for the Pinellas Green Party during Ralph Nader's campaign this year for president, but Gary is seeking elective office for the first time.
His resume includes a diverse series of life experiences he says qualify him to represent the diverse people living in southernmost St. Petersburg. His resume lists experience as a pipe fitter, a computer specialist, a hatchery quality control consultant in the Dominican Republic, a fine dining captain and wine steward, a wine buyer and a vineyard and cellar hand in Australia.
"In my district, we have 25-room mansions and $25,000 houses," Gary said "I can relate to everyone, from business owner down to waiter."
Gary says he would provide boxes next to each City Council agenda item on the city's Web site for residents to type their input, with a similar automated phone line for residents without computers.
"I would like to see more of an information flow to the council instead of from the council," he said. He plans to make a voter registration drive a centerpiece of his campaign, he said.
Gary is plowing through the annual reports of Tampa Bay Water and the Southwest Florida Water Management District to understand the area's water shortage. He said he advocates more conservation.