Restaurateur John Warren enters St. Pete mayor race
ST. PETERSBURG -- John Warren, owner of Savannah's Cafe, 1113 Central Ave., is running for mayor.
He joins 10 other candidates, none of whom have gained much traction with voters, according to a new St. Petersburg Times poll.
"I'm hopeful that the ideas that I present will be viewed by people who aren't content with what they see," Warren said.
Of his rivals, he said, "the people that I've talked to say, 'We've seen some good people, they aren't frightening, but we are not entirely satisfied, either.' "
Here is the statement Warren released today:
"Friends have asked why I’d want to run for mayor of St. Petersburg. And why wait until now to file? My answer is simple. I’ve hoped by waiting to discover among the current candidates an individual with the experience, vision and ability to guide this city through current challenges. I see good people, with experiences and passions. But neither I nor the many people I’ve talked to are excited by the choice.
So, despite the hour, I’ve entered the race. I offer my personal and community experiences. I’m committed to this City’s values and will protect them.
"For 30 years I’ve run businesses and have supported many not-for-profits. I’ve worked with countless volunteers to advance the City’s history, the arts, neighborhood and business associations and redevelopment projects.
"We look at the City’s skyline and see success. But on the streets below there’s room for improvement. We’ve observed one private/public initiative after another fail and take with it millions of public investment. We’ve witnessed many City attempts to impose a 'one size fits all' parking program on downtown businesses. Problems continue.
"We’re not winning the local war on crime. And panhandling, we’re losing on this front as well.
One cause for these disturbing observations is that the City has placed more attention on development, much less on predevelopment planning or follow through. I understand the importance of development, but let’s get the horse out in front of the cart.
"The City also needs to strengthen its relationships, locally and regionally. Locally, improved dialogue between neighborhoods and business will strengthen both interests. Regionally, the City needs closer relations with our municipal partners, to advance current interests and consider new. In particular the region should broaden its awareness of and our mutual need for a more sustainable future for the West Central Florida area.
"The relationship requiring the most attention is between the taxpayers and those who serve them. Missing at this time is transparency and accountability from government, and from the public, their engagement and participation.
"To move these matters forward we need a process within which many community objectives can be evaluated and/or pursued. Therefore, in the first year of my administration a comprehensive community planning process will begin. Like an earlier community planning process, 'Vision 20/20,' we will access today’s issues, i.e. the RAYS/ stadium, the PIER. We must also consider future opportunities associated with green technologies. Within this framework the community can consider options, opportunities, impacts and costs.
"However, before we commit funds on capital expenditures or debt, we need to be informed. We need facts, independent opinion and discussion. A community planning process provides for this and more. In the end our relationships will be improved. More clear will be our sense of who we are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there.
"With your involvement I’d like to guide this effort. With your vote it will happen."
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer