Mayors Say Cooperation Is Way to the Future
By ANNE LINDBERG, TB Reporter
Improvements to transportation, infrastructure and other challenges can best be met by presenting a regional, cooperative front, three mayors told a crowd at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.
PINELLAS PARK – Cooperation and collaboration are the way to solve issues facing the Tampa Bay are in the future, say the mayors of the three largest cities.
“When St. Petersburg and Clearwater succeed, my city succeeds as well,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Those bridges [across Tampa Bay] will never be barriers to us. They will be conduits to cooperation.”
Buckhorn added, “If we don’t connect the region,” the challenges facing all will not be met. But, if cities present a regional front, then “we will absolutely be the economic engine that drives the southeastern United States.”
That future is especially bright for Tampa, he said.
“This is Tampa’s time,” Buckhorn said. “This is when Tampa stands up to the world and says, ‘We have arrived.’”
Buckhorn was speaking to members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Tuesday (Jan. 31) at the Marriott Hotel in Pinellas Park. He was joined by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.
Cretekos and Kriseman agreed. But they both said collaboration and help from others is also needed.
“We are united. We are a region,” Cretekos said.
Clearwater, like Tampa and St. Petersburg, has a bright future, Cretekos said. That’s especially true of the city’s downtown – which city officials have worked long and hard to revitalize. The city is about to roll out its Imagine Clearwater project, which will establish a framework for the future of the downtown waterfront area. The city has high hopes for that, the mayor said.
“My fear is that five years from now, we will be talking about what to do with downtown Clearwater,” Cretekos said. “That can’t happen.”
He added, “We cannot do it by ourselves. … We need the private sector.”
Kriseman also talked of cooperation and coming together as a region, rather than as separate cities.
“Cities and the mayors that govern them need to stick together,” Kriseman said. “It’s the cities that get things done. … We can’t be bothered with partisanship.”
Kriseman noted that St. Petersburg is ready to spend more than $300 million on improving its sewer system. Kriseman and the city came under fire last year when two tropical storms overburdened the aging system causing thousands of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage to be dumped in the bay.
“Our challenge is – you know the big one – infrastructure,” Kriseman said. “We need state and federal government help.”
Later in the meeting, all three mayors were asked whether their cities might be considered sanctuary cities for immigrants.
They all agreed – no, but they welcome everyone and they’ll protect legal immigrants.
“I think what the president did is inherently wrong,” Buckhorn said. “I think it was a religious litmus test. … I can tell you this: Our police department is not the immigration police.”
Suncoast Tiger Bay | Bob Buckhorn | George Cretekos | Rick Kriseman | TB Reporter
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