I make sure I know my neighbors, I instruct my children about safety. I want to know how you candidates live your lives so I'll know how you stand when it comes time to vote. What have you done personally to improve your own neighborhood and prevent crime?
Rosemarie Grubba, Tampa
As a USF student, I feel we are ignored by the candidates. I'd like to see you finally answer questions from us students, who will be representing the population in years to come. What steps will you take to understand and represent the university community?
Brandon Biederman, Tampa
What would you do to lobby your board and the City Council to create a joint venture to fight crime?
Michelle Patty, Tampa
If we're going to fight crime, our neighborhoods need jobs and economic incentives. But all the development money is going downtown and not in the inner-city. How would you change that?
Connie Burton, Tampa
I've been a victim of several burglaries. Not one, not two, several. The first one cost me $3,000. The last one cost $184. I'm going to go belly-up bankrupt. The crime is coming from federally subsidized neighborhoods and they're in my back yard. The city shifted them out of Tampa, onto us. How can you protect us from the problem the federal government created in Hillsborough County?
Carol Beers, Tampa
I'm concerned about the bars in my area. The sheriff's deputies say the county won't give them the leeway to close these bars and really solve the problem. We're troubled by noise, guns, loud music and bad language. USF students even came here one time on a bus that said "USF Drunks." What will you do to make my neighborhood safe?
Harriet Vayles, Lutz
Do you own a gun? Where do you stand on gun control?
LINDA BARROW, DEMOCRAT
Rosemarie Grubba, Tampa:
(Speaking in reference to her previous neighborhood, where she lived for 17 years, Barrow said:) I was a community activist in that neighborhood. What we did in that neighborhood was more like the way things were when I was a child in this county. That was the extended family. We watched out for each other's homes, we watched out for each other's children. If we saw anything suspicious, we would call right away and check out who that person was. We didn't have a lot of traffic. I guess we had what you could call a crime watch in our own area. I feel like that is very important because . . . a lot of that is lacking in the communities today as we see things change in planned developments where they put up the walls and they have security guards. That's a very safe environment, some people feel. I feel we lose the extension of the neighborhoods, the extended families.
Brandon Biederman, Tampa:
As a candidate, I have always looked at myself beyond the realm of just running for a district seat. I feel it is extremely important that the candidates are knowledgeable about all areas of government, schools, universities. Even though we're running for a district seat, it's extremely important we know what their concerns are, and meet with these people so that when some decision comes up before the Board of County Commissioners we will be able to make an intelligent decision. Being a native is a very positive thing for me because I know all the areas of Hillsborough County. I basically network all the time with what concerns and problems exist beyond the realms of District 4.
Michelle Patty, Tampa:
I feel like that in this county we have got to open up the doors of communication. We have got to network with the city and the county on what positive moves we can take to fight crime. We need to learn from each other. We can do that not only networking with the city of Tampa but we can also work with the National Association of Neighborhoods and work with the Neighborhood Bill of Rights. I think a lot of individual groups and entities are too territorial. We have a lot of tools before us that can be used very positively if we just utilize them. We can make this county and the city of Tampa better for all the taxpayers.
Connie Burton, Tampa:
That's one of the reasons that I decided to run for the County Commission seat. I feel like there are areas within the county that are not being prioritized properly, and I think that we have got to be strong leaders to make sure that we're not looking in a tunnel vision. We've got to make decisions that are going to incorporate the inner-city. That's a very important link to Hillsborough County. As a commissioner I would work very carefully with Commissioner Sandra Wilson at this point to make sure the inner-city is a part of and is made felt a part of what is happening in Hillsborough County and not just sports ventures in downtown. We've got to bring the inner city into the core of the decision-making process and make sure they're part of it.
Carol Beers, Tampa:
I would have to say to her as a commissioner I would have to look seriously into the problems, what the problems are in that particular area and work very closely with the officials and see what it is that we need to do to correct the problem. It's not only in federally subsidized areas anymore, it's in the suburban areas. It's not that it's happening only in one place. We've got a very serious problem here with crime. We have got to really work together as communities, as organizations, as leaders to try to find that source we need, whether it be stronger legislation for the criminals who are creating these crimes, so we can make this a better quality of life for all of us.
Harriet Vayles, Lutz:
I think that they are going to have to work together with their community and their civic association with the Board of County Commissioners and with the sheriff's department. And it would also encompass other entities, such as the EPC on noise violations. We have this problem that has evolved in years past at the Florida state fairgrounds. It's a sad thing to say but the squeaky wheel is the one that gets the oil. I as a candidate for County Commission can understand these problems people are having and would work very closely to see the problems are resolved. We need to work together to clean these things up.
Yes I own a gun. My husband and I have worked religiously from the time our children were very little to educate them on the use of guns and what they should be used for, how important it is for them not to use those guns. I think that in our Constitution it states that we have the right to bear arms. I think that a lot of people feel that the problems we have with killings and things on the street are caused by guns. I just don't think that's going to stop by taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens to own a gun. Criminals always have an avenue to the black market to get whatever tools they deem necessary to help them (commit) the crime they're going to commit. I don't think that taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens to maintain or have a gun in their home is going to stop that.
DOTTIE BERGER, REPUBLICAN
Rosemarie Grubba, Tampa:
I participated in neighborhood watch programs, which means watching out for your neighbor. When I get in my car I lock the doors immediately. I try to be alert when I walk to my car. I go out walking every morning, and I'm just very alert as to what's going on, the cars in the neighborhood.
Brandon Biederman, Tampa:
We have tried to involve some of the students at USF in my campaign through Phyllis Marshall, getting involved in Young Republicans and activities like that on campus. It gets them involved in the process. I also think getting involved in some of the civic groups that are on campus creates an awareness about public issues. The Circle K group at USF is very involved with Joshua House. Because those students are so concerned about social problems, it's a natural carry-over to get involved in the political process.
Michelle Patty, Tampa:
Under the sunshine law, you're not allowed to lobby. But I think one of the things maybe we should look at is consolidating the Tampa Police Department and the sheriff's department. There can be some economies of scale. That type of venture would be a natural.
Connie Burton, Tampa:
I think we need to have more vocational training, create better skills, bring job training into the communities, develop skills there, have the vocational skills come into the communities.
Carol Beers, Tampa:
I think the neighborhood watch programs are an excellent way. I was also burglarized one time, and I got a burglar alarm system after I was burglarized. I feel very safe in my neighborhood even though we've had some burglaries there. Getting to know your neighbors is important. There was a time when neighbors looked out for each other. We need to get back to more community-based relationships. The neighborhood watch had a (National Night Out). You shouldn't do that once a year, we should do it on a continuing basis. When I moved into my present home, we had a cookout to which we invited the neighbors. That breaks down that natural barrier everybody has.
Harriet Vayles, Lutz:
You really need to create a lot of noise and contact your county commissioner. Press the issue. Don't let it drop. Put a lot of pressure on it. You contact your commissioner and your commissioner can put pressure on wherever it should be. That should be a community effort that puts pressure on. Whenever a community gets excited about something, it is able to see results. If I lived in a neighborhood that was having these problems, I would get some neighbors together and go down to the County Commission and be at the sheriff's department, whatever it takes.
I do own a gun. I have a concealed weapon permit. We need to keep the guns out the hands of criminals and children. I don't think that adults should be denied access to guns.
CHRIS HART, REPUBLICAN
I'm active in my neighborhood watch, I know my neighbors. I've developed friendships well beyond what we do and I've helped form a neighborhood association so we could solve our problems together.
I'll hold regular meetings in that area so I'm more readily available, not only to students but to people in that neighborhood around the university, New Tampa and Temple Terrace.
I would like to do more with our Council of Government. It gives us a forum to bring government together through the leadership of our three cities and Hillsborough County government to understand and to address common issues. We need to approach it this way because we can have a united approach to crime.
One of the things that I consistently addressed during my campaign is the need to make small businesses throughout Hillsborough County a major part of the focus because they comprise 90 percent of all businesses in the total community. We need to make that the centerpiece because they create the most jobs and expansion of our economy, which in turn will generate additional jobs and a real increase in incomes for more people.
We're going to have to approach problems like that on an individual basis, but we also need a comprehensive plan for the whole community to address crime and employment opportunities to get people to work instead of on welfare. That will turn crime around.
I'll work with neighborhood groups and civic associations to listen to their concerns and be open to new solutions. And I'm glad to make tough decisions on those if it requires changing the zoning if necessary, and to back law enforcement when necessary.
I own several rifles. I enjoy target practice, but I'm very concerned about how we address gun control in our community and I look forward to getting involved in this as a county commissioner.
I was one of the co-founders of the neighborhood crime watch for Beach Park at the start of the 1980s. I'm also a strong advocate of the Neighborhood Crime Watch program. And I was the block captain for several years and have encouraged this kind of association for all neighborhoods.
I have always been involved, in some way or another, with USF through various programs. It's a vital part _ and a jewel of our community and I will continue to be involved with the university. I was on the steering committee with Lee Leavengood, who initiated the lifelong learning program for senior citizens. I have also employed and recruited students to work on a part-time basis in my company, and I've worked with students doing resumes and helping them find permanent employment.
I think that's just one of the areas where we need to join forces and work together. We have to stop viewing Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa as separate. If the city is having a great deal of crime, it will spill over, and vice versa. We must work together. I'm a proponent of the Quad Squad. Now the Sheriff's Office is using a similar program for the county. I will always work with the city and, hopefully, the rest of the County Commission and City Council members will see the need to work together, too.
By some of the very programs I have been involved in. I was chairman of the city of Tampa Private Industry Council for two years and have been chairman of the Summer Youth Program and I've been active with the Private Industry Council for more than 10 years. We have made significant strides in obtaining employment for inner-city residents. This summer alone, 9,000 young people were given summer employment opportunities through our program.
I, too, have been a victim of multiple crimes _ car thefts, break-ins and so forth _ so I can understand how you feel. With employment opportunities, we can get jobs; with Challenge programs, hopefully we can find people homes. We have some pieces in place that we should be able to help neighborhoods become much stronger. If there are drugs, then the Quad Squad and the Sheriff's Office needs to be there. Neighborhoods can clean up their own communities with the help of police. I personally have helped Rev. Roberson in "Suitcase City," and I know Town 'N Country and Seminole Heights are making a difference in their neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods should not be destroyed in this manner. I will listen to the neighborhoods. If this kind of destructive behavior is going on in the neighborhood, I would vote against it.
No, I don't own a gun. I own pepper spray. I'm in favor of the cooling-off period for guns. I think certain guns, such as assault weapons, should not be allowed. They have no place in our society. If we're a nation to heal, we must stop the violence.