Core services include many of the everyday factors that contribute to the wellness of the community, such as, clean running water, working traffic lights and garbage services. These components are all very important to continue up keeping St. Pete.
Long-term solutions include mental health and a possible resolution to those suffering from these disorders. Right now, it is a sheriff’s job to be the biggest mental health care giver in the county. Someone with a mental health disorder may break the law, then be arrested, leaving us with the same underlying problem. Sustainability is a long-term service that needs to be carefully considered. It is known that our kids and their kids will be affected by climate change. When building future facilities, these factors need to be considered. If the sea level is estimated to rise between 2-7ft, how do you invest your public resources?
One of the largest issues on Commissioner Welch’s agenda is the hardships created by generational poverty. There are five areas in our county where poverty has increased. There is a lack of medical care, and a very low graduation and workforce rate in these areas of poverty. Commissioner Welch mentions that, “We pay over 2.5 billion dollars as a community because of poverty.” He gives the scenario of many African American males being arrested for minor issues like “twenty grams of marijuana,” then these people have a mark on them and rarely get employment or education opportunities. He believes that we cannot keep giving folks something that brands them their whole lives. This only adds to the problem and holds back those trying to make a difference. There might be a possibility of a civil citation for these crimes, such as Miami has done. Commissioner Welch states that, “We must look at the parts of community without a voice.”
Emerging issues include fracking that has affected ground and drinking water in St. Petersburg. Other issues include: Southwest Florida Water Management, oil drilling on shores, and open gun carrying in our county.
Core services, long-term solutions and emerging issues are the main focus for Commissioner Welch. He explains the group effort needed from stakeholders and the community to keep great things happening to preserve the vitality of our county. He tells the room that he is particularly proud of efforts currently being made to renovate a police station with 20 million dollars that will be storm proof to hold back up services.
St. Petersburg Chamber President Chris Steinocher, concludes by thanking Commissioner Welch for continuing to create the environment for our businesses to be successful. He asks Commissioner Welch, “What is your legacy as being a servant of this county? Where do you want to be in that history book 21 years from now? Commissioner Welch responds by explaining that we will be three-fourths of the way through CRA, which is focusing for the first time on improving generational poverty, and that with this he would ultimately like to see the poverty level decrease. He would like to see an increase in opportunity county wide, especially being a St. Petersburg native. Commissioner Welch stated that, “As a Pinellas County resident, I would like for more to be able to say ‘I can achieve and I do have a future of opportunity.’” This is how he would leave his legacy.