St. Petersburg District 5 candidates differ on homeless, public safety
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Smith and Steve Kornell are both former city employees.
But the two candidates for the District 5 City Council seat expressed very different views on how to handle the homeless and curb crime during a recent forum hosted by a local Democratic Club.
Kornell, a former recreation supervisor and a social worker with Pinellas County Schools, said he would focus on preventive tactics, including working with the school system to address the roots of juvenile crime. He would also work to create more jobs in the city's poorest areas.
Smith, a former police officer, said the community must be actively vigilant. "The police department is only as good as the community it serves," he said.
On the city's growing homeless problem, Kornell again called for preventive measures, such as drug treatment programs and mental illness treatment. He said he would rally local business groups to help lobby federal and state officials for more shelter beds and treatment facilities.
Smith said the city needs more police officers to enforce a handful of ordinances designed to curb disruptive street homeless behavior. However, he stressed that the homeless need to be treated delicately.
Angela Rouson, the former chair of the Pinellas County Housing Authority and a rival candidate, skipped the forum. Oddly enough, her husband, State Rep. Darryl Rouson, was there.
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer