City Council candidate Amy Foster on the Pier and public safety
Amy Foster, a candidate for the District 8 seat on the City Council, stopped by the Tampa Bay Times' editorial board last Friday for an interview. Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Foster moved to St. Petersburg about 10 years ago. She works for the EdLab Group, a Seattle-based nonprofit, and lives in Historic Kenwood, where she’s a member of the neighborhood association, Vice President of St. Pete Pride and on the STEM Advisory Board for Girls Inc. of Pinellas. Foster, 35, is running for office for the first time. Here are a few of the issues she discussed last week.
On the Pier: Foster is the sole candidate in the District 8 race who supports the city’s current Pier re-design, called the Lens. "I think I'm the only candidate running that has the courage to say what I think about this issue," she said on Friday. No single design is going to make everyone happy, she said. "There's not going to be a unanimous decision from [Mayor Bill Foster's] 828 Alliance or from voters and at some point someone is going to have to say ok, we've gone through a lot of processes now, we have to move forward," she told the board.
On the 34th St. motels: Drug dealing and prostitution have plagued this commercial strip for years, an issue Foster has devoted time and print to in her campaign. She's pushing for stronger code ordinances at the local, and perhaps even the state, level, as well as the adoption of policies that are working in other cities. One idea she suggested would place motels in tiers on a scale from one to four, based on the ratio of police calls to the number of rooms. Businesses in tier one would operate normally, but those in higher tiers would be required to erect fences and hire security guards and, ultimately, face financial penalties.
On public safety: It's the number one complaint from District 8 residents, Foster said. The city needs more police officers to lower the ratio of residents to officers, she said. "We want officers who aren't running from call to call from report to report, who have time to not just be responsive, but they're also self-initiating calls by looking for issues and helping address those."
On Police Chief Chuck Harmon: "I think that what most people feel is that it takes a long time to get him to take innovative approaches," Foster said. "I don't know that, because I'm not in the middle of it...But we're due for new leadership."
On citywide recycling: "I'd like to see a more full analysis," Foster said, adding that it isn't her top issue. "I think that in order to have full adoption, it has to be single stream, it can’t be mandatory, and I know for many District 8 people, especially in the Historic neighborhoods, they’d prefer for it to not be curbside. We have a high senior population; them hauling five things out isn’t the most reasonable thing to expect."