Mary Russell kicks off 'listening tour'
Mary Russell, candidate for state House Seat 54, is beginning a listening tour tonight to find out what concerns real people.
Her news release explains:
"Russell spent much of the summer meeting with elected officials to get a good grasp on administrative issues faced by municipalities. Now Mary is entering the next phase of her listening tour-reaching out directly to citizens.
"'It’s easy for people to become frustrated when they don’t feel like their voices are being heard. Unfortunately, there are times when citizen concerns fall through the cracks. Finding ways to help people navigate the system and make it work for them is what I’m best at.
"Russell’s experience on the (Pinellas County) school board taught her to listen to all sources of information before making policy decisions. 'I think you have to take a look at what research is telling you and what administrators are recommending. But to get a true glimpse into how policy decisions operationalize themselves, you have to get out into the community and hear what people are saying.'
"Russell believes citizen initiatives and state-wide referendums are one sign career politicians are sometimes disconnected from the communities they represent. 'As an elected official, it’s easy to isolate yourself from the community at-large.' Russell says. 'There are fancy parties to go to and people treat you differently. There are events and awards; plenty of pomp and circumstance. I was never comfortable in that circle. Don’t get me wrong. My mom would be horrified if I let on I didn’t have the confidence and upbringing necessary to get along as a White House dinner guest. It’s just that I’m more comfortable in other settings.'"
The first session will be at 6 tonight at the Clearwater City Council's regularly scheduled meeting. Next week, Russell will be at meetings in St. Pete Beach and Redington Shores. She will be available to talk with residents before and after each meeting.
Russell, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Jim Frishe and Jean-Paul Piccion, who has no party affiliation.
House District 54 covers the beaches and parts of Clearwater and Largo.
Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer