Mhariel Summers

Candidate for: City Council, D6
Amount Raised: $7,099.45
Cash on Hand: $3,662.34

Chamber Interview-

Candidate Q&A

Should changes be made to I-175 and/or I-375? Should they be brought to grade and transitioned to boulevards? Should they be brought below grade and capped (built over) to help bridge the gap between South St. Pete and Downtown?

Yes, updates are needed on both interstates that are practical and considerate of what has been historically disenfranchising.    The final Trop Development plans will help with determining if I-175 should be further capped or bought to grade. Either outcome must include expansions for ingress and egress in the South St. Pete neighborhoods that border. FDOT already completed a study with plans that include developing I-275 from 54th Ave S to I-175, so the opportunity to restore equity is ripe for us.    I-375 should be bought to grade and I believe it is practical to develop it into a wider highway. Looking at the map I see opportunity between 8th St. and 16th St. to widened the interstate to include 4th and 5th Ave N. Studies show this highway is one of the most congested in our city and the density is only going to grow. It must be modernized to accommodate.

How does our community connect St. Petersburg and the Pinellas Beaches to the Brightline termination station in Tampa by 2024?

We have to build interest and commitment for regional investment towards connecting our areas to Brightline. TBARTA is already looking to incorporate Innovative Transit Technology. We have the bones from the Tampa and Gulf Coast Railroad to build from.     We must be intentional about using those building blocks to champion how every city and municipality will benefit from developing our old railroads into a modern transportation option.

Do you support the plan to lease our City Marina to a developer to operate and make improvements instead of keeping the marina under city management and make the repairs ourselves?

This is something I agree should be put before voters to hear from those who utilize this marina the most. I believe the city can do more low-cost high-return investments to improve the quality of the public marina, we just need the dedication from Council.    If voters support privatization, I would urge for more protections in the lease agreement, especially one that would extend for 25 years. I would ask for protections for citizen rates and ensure the sustainability requirements are in alignment with  This may be the most expedient answer in the interim City Marina after 50 years of being a public accommodation.

What specific impact have you already made in St. Pete toward equitable economic development?

I have worked the last 5 years with equity at the forefront of my mission. As a native of South St. Petersburg, I understand firsthand the ails of an unbalanced economy in communities divided by a color line.     While becoming an Emerging Leader through a city program in 2019, I discovered there are more than 2,500 registered Black entrepreneurs in our area. From there I picked up a minor in Entrepreneurship while completing my Political Science degree to better relate to the business needs of this segment of the economy.     During this time I also interned with Empact Solutions, a Black/Woman/Veteran-owned firm specializing in management solutions. All of these experiences have cultivated in me a clear understanding of where the opportunity is and what Council can do to move great margins in the quest for equitable economic development.

How should the city balance historic designation with property rights?

We have to ensure to keep with the tradition of preserving our city’s heritage. As we develop, Council must be cautious and conservative with altering regulations in place to protect these sites. There are about 40 historic sites in District 6 and I would depend on the city’s Comprehensive Plans from the Community Planning and Preservation Commission to continue protecting them.     In addition to official sites, our city (and D6) is home to one of Florida’s oldest Black communites of this size and we should preserve the culture and heritage there. We must balance developing private property in that community with a sensitivity to the impacts of historic racially discriminatory real estate and housing practices.

What are your priorities for both sustainability AND resiliency (taken separately) for the City? What are 2 examples that you see as the City’s best opportunities to address climate change impacts?

The city has already invested millions of dollars towards planning committees and finding solutions for both.     For sustainability, my priorities are our infrastructure, transportation, and waterways. The goals from the Integrated Sustainability Action Plan should be implemented with more accountability & measurements, more public engagement, and more accessible data.    For resiliency, my priorities are improving transportation, environmental and economic equity (incld food access), and fortifying our coastal regions. We need focus and investment in the already existing Stormwater Master Plan and Advanced Wastewater Treatment systems. We must also be intentional about equity to ensure our efforts will last long term.     Addressing our rising seas and aging infrastructure are the best opportunities we have to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Sewage spills and hurricanes are our biggest threat from what I have learned. I think we should be utilizing the Solor Energy and Loan Fund to help citizens bring their properties to code. We must modernize our city’s roads, pipes, and bridges to withstand those two big threats.

Additional Resources

Goes here