Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Council candidate Gina Driscoll vows to improve affordable housing in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — Of the eight candidates vying for the City Council District 6 seat, Gina Driscoll has managed to nab the endorsement of the man she could succeed.

Council member Karl Nurse, who is prevented from running again because of term limits, this week endorsed Driscoll, 46, for the seat he will vacate later this year.

Thursday Driscoll told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board that it means a lot to get Nurse's support.

"He served as a sort of a mentor to me," she said.

Driscoll, who is president of the influential Downtown Neighborhood Association and is involved in other prominent organizations based in the city's booming waterfront center, said she is passionate about the entire city.

District 6 covers downtown and parts of the Old Northeast and Midtown, a predominantly poor, African-American neighborhood.

Like Nurse, Driscoll said she will focus on affordable housing, "particularly south of downtown," which is where Midtown is located.

"The idea is to lift entire neighborhoods," she said. "Affordable housing is the starting point" that can create "a ripple effect."

She added that she wants to strengthen the city's existing program that encourages developers to build affordable housing.

Driscoll, who was born in Indiana, grew up in Pasco County. She has lived in St. Petersburg for 12 years and is the sales manager for Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg Downtown. Her former jobs have included a stint at Disney and the Tampa Bay Times as an advertising account executive.

She got into the race late, but has raised $14,005, including $100 from Rudy Ciccarello, who is opening a museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement downtown. Ciccarello also gave $10,000 to Mayor Rick Kriseman's campaign.

Hours after the city announced that it had experienced another sewage spill, Driscoll said Thursday that it was time to move "past the blame game" and continue current efforts to fix the system.

"We didn't get here overnight," she said, adding that she believes plans for upgrades are moving in the right direction.

Driscoll also addressed the unresolved situation with the Tampa Bay Rays. "I don't believe that taxpayer money should go toward funding a new stadium," she said. "I'm very hesitant about putting in money for a private entity."

The 85-acre Tropicana site borders several neighborhoods and any redevelopment should offer "something for everyone," she said.

"It should reflect the communities it borders," Driscoll added, and include housing and "good paying jobs to support a family."

She also supports a new conference center.

Discussing the pier, another controversial issue, Driscoll said that now construction has begun, residents she's spoken with want an approach area that will link the attraction to downtown. She said she supports Kriseman's plans to ask Pinellas County to reallocate an extra $14 million in sales tax money to the Pier District, transportation and parking downtown. Of that sum, $10 million would be used for "enhancements" to the pier project and the remainder for transportation and parking.

Driscoll told the editorial board about organizing a meeting for downtown residents to get details about the Tampa Bay Rowdies' plans for Al Lang Stadium. It's important to her that people's voices be heard and for them to get the correct information, she said.

Concerning crime in District 6, Discroll said that in downtown, the concern is about car and bike thefts and noise. South of downtown, those concerns are different, she said.

"The challenges we face are as unique as the neighborhoods we live in," she said. "You have to listen to each person."

Like some of the other candidates, Driscoll spoke about the importance of early childhood education and noted that after-school programs "are getting slashed." She wants to find a way for the city "to partner" with Pinellas Technical College to offer high school students skills and career options.

Driscoll said she enjoys seeing such a crowded field of committed candidates for the district, She stands out because of her service in the community and for "really rolling up my sleeves" and getting things done. If elected, she plans to bring "thoughtful leadership" and continue to enhance the city's reputation as a "very inclusive" place. She declined to say whether she'd support Kriseman or former Mayor Rick Baker in the mayoral election, but said her priority will be to work with whoever is elected.

"My job is to represent the people of District 6 and work for them and fight for them," she said. Also running for District 6 are Justin Bean, Corey Givens Jr., Robert Blackmon, Maria L. Scruggs, James "Jim" Jackson, James Scott and Eritha "Akile" Cainion.

The Aug. 29 primary will determine the top two candidates who will go on to the Nov. 7 general election.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes

Council candidate Gina Driscoll vows to improve affordable housing in St. Pete 07/14/17 [Last modified: Thursday, July 13, 2017 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Evening update: Tropical Storm Harvey forms in Atlantic, second wave follows

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 8 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  2. Trump 'beautiful statues' tweets roil Tampa Bay's own Confederate debate

    National

    It started Thursday at 9:07 a.m., as it does so often these days, with a tweet:

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon before voting again this week to put a deadline on a public sector fundraising campaign to pay part of the cost. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  4. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  5. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]