St. Pete realtor Brandi Gabbard hopes to bring housing experience to city council
ST. PETERSBURG — City Council candidate Brandi Gabbard looks at details and the long-term consequences when evaluating political decisions.
“There’s so many times in these huge policies that there’s an unintended consequence layer that lives underneath,” Gabbard said.
She said she’s seen it with the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and the huge increases many Pinellas County residents experienced. And she’s seeing it again now with the city’s discussion of mandatory solar panels for new roofs.
“I’m in favor of incentives,” she said. “I’m not in favor of mandates when it comes to home ownership.”
Gabbard, a Democrat, met with the Tampa Bay Times’ editorial board Tuesday to discuss her thoughts on affordable housing, the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site and public safety.
Gabbard, 41, a Realtor who lives in the Barcley Estates neighborhood, hopes to replace term-limited Jim Kennedy, a Democrat who has served on the council since being appointed in 2007. District 2 covers most of northeastern St. Petersburg up to Feather Sound, the Gateway and Gandy areas.
Gabbard has been active in the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and the local realtor trade organization, and says she would focus on public safety and attainable workforce housing if elected to the city council.
When discussing the plans to rebuild St. Petersburg’s downtown Pier, Gabbard said she would not have voted to ask Pinellas County for an additional $14 million to add “enhancements” to the Pier District, as the council did last month. Such an addition would bring the total budget for the 26-acre waterfront project to $76 million.
“I think we’ve spent so long on the pier, and the voters are tired of hearing about it,” Gabbard said. “They’re very concerned about the rising cost of it...They continue to feel like it’s more money and more money for something they can’t see any result of it yet."
Gabbard and opponent Barclay Harless Harless are scheduled to debate at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Council of Neighborhood Associations meeting at the SUnshine Center, 335 5th St. N. Candidates from districts 4 and 6 will also be there.
It will be one of the first times people can hear from both candidates in public. Gabbard said there are significant differences between her and Harless, even though they’re both Democrats.
Gabbard said her life experience as a small business owner and a mother raising a child in the community give her a different perspective than her opponent.