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With Just Getting Started, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Dr. Kanika Tomalin is “telling the St. Pete story” through one-on-one conversations with change-makers. With many exciting plans and projects on the horizon, St. Petersburg’s upward trajectory remains strong. “So much has been done, but here’s the secret: We’re just getting started.

12/12/2020 | Episode 11 | 23:33

Just Getting Started: Sustainability, resilience and energy efficiency

Dr. Tomalin's guest is Sharon Wright, Director of Sustainability and Resilience Initiatives for the City of St. Petersburg. Sharon is responsible for delivering Mayor Kriseman’s sustainability priorities by working across city departments and with citizens, businesses, and community partners to establish a community-wide sustainability program.

Key Insights

  • Wright was involved in the creation of the city's Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. "It really underscored the role that sustainability must play as we move forward," Dr. Tomalin points out.
  • Mayor Kriseman created the Office of Sustainability in 2015.
  • ISAP includes three focus categories: Climate Action (energy use and greenhouse gas emissions), Overall Sustainability in inter-connected areas (including 500 distinct metrics) and Realizing Resilience ("How to thrive in all these changing conditions?")
  • Within four years of establishment of the sustainability office, St. Petersburg in 2019 received the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge Award, with just 25 other cities.
  • "The fact that the Climate Challenge funded a staff person here for two years got us probably what it would have taken me four or five years to put in place - we've done it in about a year and a half."
  • The city used some of its BP settlement money to seed two nonprofits: The Solar Energy Co-Op and SELF (Solar Energy Renewal Fund) to research, educate and help with solar energy as an major component of St. Petersburg's future.
  • The "resiliency hub" of the Childs Park Neighborhood Collective has proven invaluable. "If everybody isn't benefitting, and everyday needs aren't met in our community, it's pretty hard to sell some of the overall picture of sustainability."
  • The sixth Solar Co-Op will kick off in early 2021.

 

We decided to do it all all in one big Integrated Sustainability Action Plan ... that's why it has the 'integrated' name, with so much department and community input."

We're really trying to build up and fortify homes with energy efficiency, resiliency, weatherization - and some of them have already made it from getting all of those things done up to having solar panels added to their home."

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1 Reviews on this article

Charlie Guy
18. 12 2020, 08:22:1717
Being a mayor of a major city like Saint Petersburg is obviously a most challenging job!! It is always so difficult to try and please as many residents with so many different views, wants, needs, and political orientations. As time passes, our current community's memories tend to remember best the THINGS that had been planned, started, and/or finally built during a mayor’s tenure. For many of our past mayors, the St. Pete Pier and Tropicana Field are probably the most recognizable. When our current mayor, Rick Kriseman, leaves office late next year, the future memory triggering events may well be the newest St. Pier and the 2015 Downtown Waterfront Master Plan. Upon hearing this podcast and having had the opportunity to recently work with Sharon Wright, Mayor Kriseman’s most important accomplishment that very likely will never be at the forefront of the future citizenry’s memories will be the management processes and the skilled managers and staff that have now been developed as the core of our City’s soul. More important than Sharon’s obvious conceptual and management skills is her deeply and very observable passion for the impact that she feels that this process can have upon ALL City residents…especially the most challenged ones. Regardless who our next mayor may be, that individual will have the benefit of Mayor Kriseman’s greatest accomplishment!

About the host

Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a thought leader, policy-maker, community ambassador, and health advocate.

As the first African-American, female Deputy Mayor and City Administrator of one of Florida’s largest cities, Dr. Kanika Tomalin is a role model for women from all walks of life and an advocate for innovative policies, equitable community revitalization, healthy families, at-risk youth and education.

Her signature initiative, Healthy St. Pete, which launched in 2014, has made community health a priority and impacts the lives of thousands of Sunshine City residents. By creating access to healthy food options, implementing free fitness zones in city parks and adding resources for individuals and families to make healthy living easier – Dr. Tomalin has made a tangible difference.

Dr. Tomalin’s understanding of the critical role health plays as a determinant of overall quality of life was shaped prior to her career in the public sector. She quickly climbed the ranks in the healthcare industry, most recently serving as the regional vice president of External Affairs for the Bayfront Health Network and director of Strategy for Health Management Associates’ 23-hospital Florida Group.


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