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Editorial: City Council Elections April 10 – Helping You Sort Seven Candidates

Editorial: City Council Elections April 10 – Helping You Sort Seven Candidates

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Seven candidates qualified to run for New Port Richey City Council in February this year, and so far here at NewsPortRichey I’ve given you a synopsis of their biographical information and their basic platform statements. In that article, we also linked to candidate contact information if you would like to contact them directly for more information.

Last week, thanks to a candidate’s forum organized by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce and the Board of Realtors, we got more insight into the platforms and positions of these same candidates. With election day fast approaching on Tuesday of next week (April 10, 7 AM – 7 PM at the New Port Richey Rec Center), it’s time for voters to make a decision about for whom they will be casting their ballot. To that end, here’s a run-down of last week’s candidate event, what was said, and what issues were presented. Of note, one candidate, Lindra Rice, was not present at the event and so information for that candidate is not currently available.

The moderator for the event was C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times. The first question of the night related to candidates’ positions on gun control. Editorial Note: I particularly thought this was an odd question considering that it in no way relates to the actual “legislative” responsibilities of New Port Richey Council members. Bowen explained the question as being applicable because of a Hillsborough County Commissioner’s recent call for the County to instate an assault weapons ban. Candidate Joan Hook seemed the most surprised by the question, and cited her experience as an attorney with a Florida statute that prevents municipal candidates from even discussing the issue. In the end, all seven candidates answered the question and I will withhold judgement from the responses below as I felt the question was irrelevant. We’ll get into those responses shortly, but I wanted to explain the format here so that I can provide concide information about each candidate’s position.

At the bottom of the page will be a section with each candidate’s entire response in “shorthand notes”–not verbatim–to their points. I will link to those notes from each section to where those comments were made so that you can read the entire context if you wish. Based on each issue at hand, I will provide a bullet-point synopsis of the candidate’s comments and positions so that you can get what information you need, and then proceed on for additional information if you so choose.

If you still need additional information, there is a planned candidate meet-and-greet this Sunday, April 8 at Gill Dawg from 12 PM – 6 PM. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more information.

Also linked below you can see NewsPortRichey’s recommendation for your vote on April 10.

Without further ado (and in alphabetical order by last name):


Peter A. AltmanPeter A. Altman

Opening

  • #6 of 7 children in the Altman family
  • Lives in the same house his family did when he was born
  • Saw Pasco grow from 25,000 people to today
  • Served 3 terms as NPR Mayor
  • 18 years as a CPA
  • NPR Finance Director for 1 year, Assistant City Manager for 1 year

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Remembers 9/11 as Pasco County Commission Chairman, remember Kennedy Assassination, remembers Berlin Wall
  • Lost 17-year-old nephew to a self-inflicted gunshot wound–thinks his nephew was a capable hunter and knew gun safety–but did not have self-control because of his age.
  • “We just have too much firepower in our world right now and I would do anything I could to control that.”

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • Yes
  • Supports the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)
  • Meant for small cities and NPR is a small city
  • We are the downtown for 150,000 (Chasco Fiesta, Library, and US19)
  • “I think we [should] accept our role as West Pasco’s downtown.”
  • “We pay more money to consultants than we do to our own folks who volunteer here.”

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • Wants bikeable and walkable spaces
  • Alleys in our city are “horrendous” – fix them up and become “walkways for the people of the city.”

Full Comments (Click Here)


Marilynn deChant

Marilynn deChant

Opening

  • Moved to NPR in 1980
  • Spurred to get involved in politics by trees being unnecessarily destroyed
  • Worked in the 1980s with the NPR Main Street Program and served as program director for ten years
  • Served previously on NPR City Council
  • Wants to be an involved, effective, and committed, Council member “and will serve to the best of my ability.

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Supports increasing the age limit to 21 for ownership
  • Wants to consider the need for rifles in a domestic society near other residents
  • Wants to keep the conversation going to a point where “we aren’t seeing so many young people die.”

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • “Yes, I believe we… should provide funds for that and make that a solid working relationship.”
  • “I have worked with downtown organizations since 1980.”
  • Wants the organization to revise its by-laws and go forward with a plan that “works with what the city wants.”

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • Wants to create incentive programs to encourage homeowners or landlords to clean up their properties
  • Wants to re-name area neighborhoods to give them their own identity
  • Wants to focus on the 47% of properties that are rentals

Closing

  • Focus on property value – promote ownership to uplift property values and lower the millage rate as property values go up
  • Downtown revitalization – “pebble in the pond as the ripples affect the neighborhoods and beyond

Full Comments (Click Here)


Joan Nelson Hook

Joan Nelson Hook

Opening

  • Feels “a little inexperienced running for office.”
  • A Bachelors in Education from University of Maryland, Master’s Degree, Law Degree from Delaware Law School
  • Lived in the DC Area, Caribbean, and Europe but “finds New Port Richey to be a wonderful city to live in.”
  • Served in leadership roles with five local charitable and non-profit organizations
  • Crowning achievement was being crowned Queen Chasco of 2006
  • Built a law practice in New Port Richey that has operated for 25 years

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Would support background checks and maybe a waiting period
  • Husband has guns, brother has guns–“but they keep them safe and they’re responsible and have had training.”

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • Yes
  • [This program] “is going to be very helpful for the City of New Port Richey. I am just concerned that it may add another layer.”
  • Wants the organization to bring in grant money to “help us do what we want to do.”

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • Wants more sidewalks in neighborhoods to create a “walkable community”
  • Wants to tackle parking as an issue – wants other solutions than a 4-story “concrete edifice”

Closing

  • Wants to promote “tactical urbanism” — an example is the parklet on Grand Blvd
  • Wants to utilize the river through downtown — a “treasure and underutilized resource to market New Port Richey.”

Full Comments (Click Here)


Matt Murphy

Opening

  • Local business owner–owns Ferrell Power Company
  • Spent 7.5 years in the military as a civil engineer on electrical systems during Desert Storm/Desert Shield
  • Grew up in Pasco–Graduated from Gulf High School c/o 1988

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Supports background checks–mental health and mental illness
  • Supports the 2nd Amendment
  • As a veteran knows that the military is trained to use the weapons on Day 1 but they were taken away when not needed
  • Views weapons as “not a toy” and supports that lesson
  • Supports raising the age restriction to 21

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • Yes – “Hard for anyone to say that these programs are not needed.”
  • Benefits the city culturally, not necessarily monetarily
  • Wants the best “bang for the buck”

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • “No simple answer to neighborhood revitalization”–it starts with infrastructure
  • Nearly half rentals–“We want people to invest in their home, renters don’t always do that.”
  • Wants to restrict homeowners from renting their properties until 1-2 years into ownership

Closing

  • Ideas are great–I want to get them implemented
  • Wants to work with other cities, the County, and the State
  • Development is headed east and “they have forgotten about us”

Full Comments (Click Here)


Rob Oman

Rob Oman

Opening

  • Worked in management with telecommunications supervising 12-18 people
  • Earned his realtor’s license at night school–went into realty during the Recession
  • Now works in Pest control as a manager, in charge of day-to-day operations and 8-12 employees
  • Wants to connect parks and recreation areas with bike lanes and pedestrian walkways
  • Wants increased debris pickup and condensed garbage pickup on condensed days
  • Thinks some ordinances are outdated or not enforced
  • Wants to focus on streets to prevent flooding
  • Wants to create home ownership and support businesses

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Thinks the debate has focused on the difference between assault rifles and other rifles
  • Agrees that weapons are serious
  • Should not be “easier to get guns than it is to get sudafed or spray paint.”
  • Wants to take steps to allow legislatures to provide mental health checks for ownership
  • Wants police units to sit at schools to “prevent anyone from showing up at random.”
  • “All we can really do is lead the way”

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • Yes – “Fund it to a certain point.”
  • “Set measurable goals and then see whether we’re living up [to them].”
  • “Should not [just] keep throwing money at it.”

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • The report “is one of many the city has called up”
  • “One of the top things homeowners want is running and biking trails.” Wants to extend existing bike trails going from the Rec Center to Grand to other parks, West to East
  • “Rental rates are too high”

Closing

  • Wants to provide diversity to the Council
  • Has not lived in the City for a long time, brings fresh ideas and “a progressive outlook”
  • Wants to commit the City to 100% renewable energy

Full Comments (Click Here)


Bob Smallwood

Bob Smallwood

Opening

  • Has seen tremendous “growth and strides in New Port Richey over the last few years.”
  • Electrical Engineer, earned an MBA
  • Wants to build on successes
  • Worked in sales engineering
  • Married for 38 years with two children, his wife is a special education teacher at Anclote High School
  • Spearheaded the return of the Coteeman Triathalon

Question #1 – Gun Control

  • Agrees that “there are definitely mental health issues.”
  • Supports raising the age of ownership to 21
  • Would like to talk with Chief Bogart and “understand what it is we need to do about guns within city limits.”
  • Can’t put metal detectors in all schools

Question #2 – NPR Main Street Program – Should we fund it?

  • Yes
  • Wants measurables for the program–“deliverables set up for each quarter.”
  • You give them funds based on the performance of meeting those deliverables

Question #3 – Improving Neighborhoods

  • “There are sidewalks that don’t exist that need to exist.”
  • Wants to “take old dilapidated mobile home parks and revitalize those areas.”
  • Wants improvement grants and forgiveness grants and forgive existing liens on newly purchased homes
  • Is interested in bike trails like the proposal making Grand Blvd along the River a one-way trail
  • “We’ve got to market our city.”

Closing

  • “It’s time”
    • for new faces and energy on Council
    • to move citizens towards greatness
    • to get serious about marketing New Port Richey
    • to work more closely with our businesses

Full Comments (Click Here)


Our Recommendation

This year’s field of candidates is, I have to say, rather outstanding. Almost all of them are qualified for the position, and many claim to share agreement on a variety of issues–a sign that things are looking good and topics are coming up and have an opportunity to be solved.

Based on the responses of these six candidates, I would like to make a recommendation for your vote on April 10. This recommendation is not based on responses given to the first question on gun control. Most of the candidates had very similar or exactly similar responses to that question, and I felt it was not appropriate for a discussion of the qualifications of these candidates in the first place. It simply is not part of the decision–even though they widely agreed with each other’s statements.

Most candidates also agreed on the funding for New Port Richey Main Street. Therefore, much of my consideration comes down to policy statements based around improving New Port Richey’s neighborhoods, prior experience with each of these candidates and information about their platforms and qualifications over time, as well as their experience in office.

Some of the candidates have lots of experience either in office or in businesses or professions which provide large amounts of relevant experience. While some of this experience is incredibly helpful, there is also such a thing as too much experience. I believe this is the case with Peter Altman–he has been on City Council previously (as Mayor) and also very recently on the City’s staff. Altman has had financial issues in the past and was instrumental in bringing about the Main Street Landings project on the Cotee River–an eyesore and a failure of a project that continues to this day. I am sure that Mr. Altman is doing all he can to help his community, but I do not think giving him a  leadership position with the City for a second time would be a wise choice after the direction that policies he implemented took us in the past. That, combined with his recent work within the City government, makes me leery of his candidacy.

Marilynn deChant’s candidacy suffers a similar issue but not to the same degree. deChant has been on the Council before and certainly understands the workload and responsibility, as does Altman, but her past involvement in the New Port Richey Main Street project offers similar conflicts as did Judy deBella Thomas, one of the outgoing Council members. Both deChant and Thomas’ involvement in the organization has clearly skewed their views over the years, and Thomas frequently had to abstain from votes because she was receiving payments as interim director.

That said, deChant is a vote for consistency outside the dangerous policies of the late 90s and early 2000s. She has policy viewpoints very similar to that of Joan Hook and Rob Oman, both of which offer commendable outlooks on improving environmental issues in the city and neighborhood infrastructure improvements which are badly needed. I do think that deChant could benefit from changing her focus and her rhetoric from the downtown of New Port Richey back to its neighborhoods where some real investment should be made.

There are also some other fresher faces to choose from in the field, including two more technically minded candidates in Bob Smallwood and Matt Murphy. I am happy to see Murphy’s involvement in local politics, as well as Smallwood’s engineering expertise put to good use in directing city policy. Murphy, though, is a face I have not seen on the landscape yet, while Smallwood has been involved in local organizations for quite some time. To be frank, if Murphy continues to be involved and were running again next year he would likely earn my endorsement.

Rob Oman, while a previous candidate, is still also a newcomer. His positions are admirable and direct–and are the right direction for the city. Emphasizing the city’s parks, the river, sidewalks, and bike lanes are critical to making New Port Richey a welcoming place to live and making it appeal to a younger generation of homeowners, rather than a large population of rental units. I endorsed Oman in the last race he ran, but I would like to have seen more involvement from him in the intervening years. I do not think he has strengthened his candidacy in that time and the field of candidates this year is much stronger. I think other more experienced candidates should take note of his platform and positions and see that it is what the demographic that New Port Richey needs is after.

With all of the above considered, I am recommending two candidates, but there is a tough choice for voters to make and I expect much of the vote to be split. I feel the two strongest candidates are Marilynn deChant and Bob Smallwood. These two also offer very similar viewpoints and, I believe, will work well together. I think in particular that Smallwood will offer a continued spirit of cooperation with the council members already there. I think there is also a very strong argument for a vote for Matt Murphy and Joan Hook in that Hook offers legal experience and will help keep the Council in line with the law and avoid legal pitfalls, but that is not as strong a reason considering the City already has an appointed attorney. Murphy is an area native and offers some political experience and clout, but has been absent more recently. I think he particularly offers his strongest candidacy in the near future.

I would offer that also if you feel particularly strongly that one candidate is the right choice, especially in a field of seven candidates, it is often better to vote only for one candidate to ensure that your vote does not assist another candidate in pulling ahead.

No matter how you vote, though, make sure to mail your ballot to arrive before April 10 (Tuesday next week!) or to be at the poll (Rec Center on Van Buren Avenue) from 7 AM – 7 PM to vote in person. Wait times are generally non-existent, so there is no reason not to vote! Good luck to all the candidates!


Peter Altman Full Comments

Opening Statement

I am number 6 of 7 siblings in the Altman family – living in the home that his parents brought him back to from the hospital. 25,000 people in Pasco when he was born–most in Dade City–has watched diverse backgrounds move into the city and watching the growth and he thinks that gives him perspective. I served 3 terms as Mayor.  CPA for 18 years. Served as the city’s finance director for a year and as assistant to the city manager for a year. I hope that you’ll give me an opportunity to get back behind the desk.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

I was chairman of the County Commission on 9/11. We had just purchased new voting machines and I just barely remember President Kennedy being shot and I remember the Berlin Wall coming down. We all remember 9/11. I also watched the TV on Thursday and watched these children try to change the nation. I think they are reasonable…. ” I lost my 17 year old nephew to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Hunting, a supervised parent–he knew gun safety but he didn’t have self control and he hadn’t developed that yet. We just have too much firepower in our world right now and I would do anything I could to control that.

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

Yes, I believe they should fund an agency whose goal is to achieve what is under the CRA. The MSP is meant for small cities and NPR is a small city. Our city has its own destiny in its hands and it has this large CRA entity. We are the downtown for 150,000. The Chasco Fiesta, the library, and US19 functions as a downtown for a much larger area.

I think the small town charm is sustained by MSP to see people that you know around town. I think we accept our role as West Pasco’s downtown. Those are volunteers that we are supporting. We pay more money to consultants than we do to our own folks who volunteer here.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

We’ve had many studies saying these things about bikeable and walkable spaces is important and that’s absolutely right. There’s build it and they will come and then there’s bring the hot dogs and they willl come. The hot dogs didn’t work.The city should show by example. The best thing the city can do is to look at that the assets we have and actually bring them to our potential. The alleys in our city are horrendous. The alleys in our city could be fixed up and become spaces [and walkways] for the people of the city.


Marilynn deChant Full Comments

Opening Statement

I moved to NPR in 1980. I and my husband watched several longleaf pine trees being torn down for a new development. That incident led to my husband Dell serving on the council to 1988 to 1992. Named tree city USA and has celebrated Arbor Day for 29 years now.

I worked in the 1980s with the Florida Main Street Program in 1990. Served the Main Street Cooperative for ten years. Also served on the New Port Richey council and during that time she served on New Port Richey City Council and now works with local non-profits in her own public relations business in New Port Richey. I want to be an effective, involved, and committed City Council member and will serve to the best of my ability.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

I support the age limit being moved up to 21. I think bump stocks should be outlawed. I think we should consider the need for an assault rifle or a gun in a domestic society and whether that really has a purpose with all the residents and human beings. I also think it is extremely important to keep this conversation going. I personally think we need tougher rules for guns but keep the conversation going so we can help bring this issue to a point where we’re not seeing so many young people die.

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

I have been part of the downtown since 1980 and I just thought the downtown was so unique–just the parapets and the design of the grid–back then we did land the designation for Main Street and we got grant money for training. I reached out to get volunteers to help. We built our membership and that’s how we got more funding. We started the incentive program which has been revitalized by Mario Iezzoni (the city’s economic development director). They need to revitalize their bylaws and go forward with a plan that works with what the city wants. Yes, I believe the city should provide funds for that and make that a solid working relationship.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

My top idea would have something to do with creating incentive programs to encourage homeowners and even landowners to clean up and improve their properties to change (increase) . There was a consultant before I was on council that suggested that we name each of the neighborhoods so that they had their own identity. I think we should bring that back. We do have 47% rental properties in New Port Richey so we really need to focus on that.

Closing Statement

I want to restate my point about property values. It is my understanding that if we can promote ownership we can uplift those property values. You do that and you can lower the millage with property values going up. The other thing I would like to see of course is downtown revitalization. It is the pebble in the pond. The ripples affect the neighborhoods and beyond. I like to think that forming the cooperative planted the seeds for some of the success we see now.


Joan Nelson Hook Full Comments

Opening Statement

“I am a little inexperienced running for office.” I received a degree in Education from the University of Maryland. I received my law degree from Delaware Law School (also received a master’s degree). I have lived in the DC area, the Caribbean, and in Europ–she finds “New Port Richey to be a wonderful city to live in.”

Served in leadership roles in the center for independence, the west pasco bar association, the rotary club of seven springs, the academy of florida elder law attorneys, bayonet point regional hospital, the board of trustees of North Bay hospital. Lifetime member of the NPR historical society and friends of the NPR library.

My crowning achievement was being crowned Queen Chasco of 2006. I built my practice in NPR and it celebrates 25 years in operation. Common sense, analytical skills, and energy… as we learn from the past and look to the future.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

That’s a very difficult question FS 790 statute forbid elected candidates from discussing–I think it does first amendment rights. I really am not prepared to answer that because it was my understanding that 790 that would be more strict than what the legislature would pass. If I were allowed to talk about it I would support background checks and maybe a waiting period. My husband has guns, my son has guns, my brothers have guns but they all keep them safe and they’re responsible people. They’ve all had training–they were in the military or. “Thank goodness my time is up. [joke]”

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

I would have to agree that the MSP is going to be very helpful for the City of NPR. I am just concerned that it may add another layer. But if that can bring in grant money then it can help us do what we want to do.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

The first thing that comes to mind is sidewalks in neighborhoods. The goal of City council is to make New Port Richey a walkable community. Being able to walk to the store, being able to walk to entertainment and yet so many people walk for exercise and they have to walk in the street because the pavements are broken up either from tree roots or just from age. I know it sounds like a mundane fix for a top job but we need to mention neighborhoods. If it’s walkable then it’s serviceable to people in the neighborhood. I think that parking would be my next problem to solve. People have talked about parking garages with a concrete four-story edifice and I think we need to look at some other ideas for solving our parking problems.

Closing Statement

There is a concept called tactical urbanism. If you haven’t heard of that–if you heard about the parklet on Main Street at Grand Blvd. That can be another tool in our toolbox to fix city problems. People say we want to be like Dunedin or be like Tarpon Springs. Well, I don’t. We have things that those cities don’t have. We have a river that runs through our town. That river is such a treasure and such an underutilized resource to market New Port Richey. We have a very exciting program of change and development and I thank them for what they’ve done.


Matt Murphy Full Comments

Opening Statement

I’m a local business owner. I own Ferrell Power Company and is an electrical contractor. 7.5 years in civil engineering working on electrical systems in the military in support of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Grew up in Pasco and graduated from Gulf High School class of 1988. I’ve seen it change. It’s always been in my heart.

i have been traveling a lot the last few years and now that I am back in the area I really wants to take charge of things. This is probably the best time that I’ve ever seen. Whether it’s Main Street Landing finally getting on track and businesses fighting to get in–the apartments going in at Orange Lake–we have older business like the Boulevard Beef & Ale that have stood the test of time. We have so many great things downtown and I want to make sure that we see everything to fruition and that we’re able to make it happen in our future. Not saying we don’t have our issues like crime and our neighborhoods and things we need to work on.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

I definitely support background checks–mental illness and mental health. I don’t for any second say that someone shouldn’t have a gun as that is t heir 2nd amendment right. I think as a society how we set up a system to evaluate who shouldn’t have them, that’s definitely above my level. Being in the military we’re trained to use said weapons from day 1. From my experience anyway we went out and practice and trained and then they took them from you and locked them up until you need them. It wasn’t a toy. It was something you used for your job. I think one of the biggest problems we have is that we have a lot of young people and people who are not mature enough who don’t understand the consequences and see it as a game or a toy. I fully support waiting until 21 for you to get a gun period. You can’t have a drink but we can give you an assault rifle. I don’t want to impede anybody.

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

It would be a hard thing for anyone to say that these programs are not needed. I think these programs are needed. I don’t think it’s always a benefit monetarily but it is a benefit culturally. There is a cost associated with getting the best bang for your buck for the city. I think as long as we keep that in mind and we’re getting a benefit from these programs, we need to keep it going. I’m not saying there’s not times that you need to revamp things and you’re obtaining your goals.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

I with there was one simple answer to neighborhood revitalization. Joan was talking about sidewalks and roads. It starts with infrastructure. The other is ratio that we have from renters to owners is nearly half. That’s not good for any city. We want people to invest in their home. Renters don’t always do that. Whatever we can do to get people to invest and buy–I even want to say to offer incentives to landlords to sell and get owners in there and grandfather it in where you can’t rent for 1-2 years and get people to put roots in there. That’s one of those things we have to do. We want people to take ownership and be involved. I’m not saying there’s anything against renters but we definitely want people to take ownership and be involved and tha tbenefits the whole community.

Closing Statement

Ideas are great when you can get them implemented. I wanto make sure that everyone is given the resources they need to do their job. For our downtown, for our departments, for our neighborhoods. It does take money too and I want to make sure that we’re spending that money wisely. We’ve got to work with other cities, the county, and our state leaders. I was fortunate enough to see the behind the scenes work in Tallahassee. It’s crazy–and we have to make sure that when we pay taxes and we’re getting the funding that we need. We’ve always been the red-headed step child in Pasco. The development has been going east and they’ve forgotten about us.


Rob Oman Full Comments

Opening Statement

I worked my way up to a management position with telecommunication overseeing 12-18 people and earned his realtor’s license at night school. That did not work well during the recession and he now works with a pest control management and is in charge of all day to day operations for 8-12 employees.

I still think we need to connect some of our parks and recreation areas with bike lanes and pedestrian areas. Wants to see increased debris pickup and condensed garbage pickup on less days.

I think many ordinances are outdated or not enforced. Focus on neighborhood streets to prevent future flooding. I want to create future home ownership in the city and support businesses.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

[I think the focus has been the] difference between assault rifles and not assault rifles. I think everybody up here agrees that weapons are serious. I think it shouldn’t be easier to get guns than it is to get sudafed or spray paint. I think we need to take steps to allow the legislature and other governments to provide the proper mental health checks. We have police units that sit at the school within our city limits. Maybe offer extra deputies (police) when they’re doing paperwork to prevent anyone from showing up at random. All we really can do is to lead the way in what we want our state governments to do.

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

I think the city should fund it to a certain point. I think that like most things in life we need to be able to set measurable goals and then see whether we’re living up to those goals. I don’t think we should keep throwing money into something that doesn’t work so as long as we can ensure that Main Street is providing benefit then we should keep doing that but we should not keep throwing money at it.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

The report you are mentioning is one of many that the city has called up from time to time for an amazing city that many people don’t know about. It’s true we have many waterfront parks–we have seven. One of the top things that homeowners want is running and biking trails. This is true for millenials and baby boomers alike. One of the top five things for homeowners is walking and biking trails. We have a bike trail going across fro the rec center down to Grand. We can extend that further and go south and then you can have it so any resident can go east or west and hit that trail and be brought into the downtown. That, I would think, would do a lot of things for home ownership. The rental rates are too high so if we can do more grants for home ownership that would be great.

Closing Statement

I’d like to provide some diversity to the Council. I have not lived in the city for many decades. I have seen and lived in other municipalities and seen how they have operated. I offer a fresh, young, and progressive outlook. I would like to commit the city to 100% renewable energy. These are all ambitious things but they will ensure a city that will work for you.


Bob Smallwood Full Comments

Opening Statement

[There has been] tremendous growth and strides in New port Richey over the last few years. The Hacienda hotel renovation being undertaken [by Lakeside Inn owner Gunderson.]

What are we going to do to maintain and build on our successes. Master’s in business administration. Sales engineering. Married 38 years with 2 children. My wife is a special education teacher at Anclote High School. Spearheaded the return of the Coteeman triathlon.

Question #1 – Gun Control – The biggest public debate nationally has been guns. What do you view as your role in the national debate.

There are definitely mental health issues. I’m definitely in favor of raising the age for guns up to 21. I’m going to sit down with Chief Bogart and understand what it is we need to do about guns within city limits. I know it’s an issue and a concern and you can’t harden all of the schools and can’t put metal detectors in all of them. I would really want to understand the police’s concerns and provide them with all of the resources and tools to deal with that.

Question #2 – NPR Main Street, Inc. – The funding of New Port Richey Main Street has been nearly an annual debate. Should we continue to fund this agency?

There are four arms of the Main Street program:

Art – Events – Businesses
The city took over the role of managing the director of the program. Since that time they went through two directors. One lasted only a month and a half and the other was not a good fit. It’s a great program that focuses on downtown and small cities like what ours is. It focuses on grant money for the Hacienda and other projects. There should be deliverables set up for each quarter and I think that is where we are right now. I think they met their goals for the first quarter. You give them funds based on the performance of meeting those deliverables.

Question #3 – City Neighborhoods – The recent ULI report was extremely complementary of the city. What is your top idea of improving the city’s neighborhoods.

I hear about infrastructure and I agree with that. There are sidewalks that don’t exist that need to exist. How to take old dilapidated mobile home parks and revitalize those areas. Improvements grants and forgiveness grants and with new homebuyers there could be existing liens on the house. There could be a program where we forgive some of those liens. My daughter is trying to buy a house and she needs to get financing and you just can’t do it because in that price range by the time the house comes up you can’t get hte paperwork in time. I like Rob’s comments about bike trails too because I’m looking at what’s going on with River Road with possibly turning that into a one way bike trail going into Port Richey. The ULI plan said that “there is a market waiting to hear the NPR story.” We’ve got to market our city.

Closing Statement

Facebook Page Bob Smallwood for City Council – “It’s Time” – It’s time for new faces and energy on city council. It’s time to move citizens towards greatness. It’s time to get serious about marketing NPR. It’s time to work more closely with our businesses and to attract new businesses and higher paying jobs.


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