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Want change in the city? The one commission you’re not talking to

Meiko Seymour

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What I love about St. Petersburg are all of the ways that you can get involved to make this place more equitable and full of sunshine. Every 10 years, the city reviews its Charter by appointing everyday residents to the Charter Review Commission. This commission looks at the city’s Charter and makes recommendations for amendments that then go on to the residents to vote on in the general elections that fall.

The St. Petersburg Charter can be thought of as our operating document. It defines things like what we can and can’t do with our Waterfront Park System, the terms of the mayor and City Council, how boards and committees are appointed and so much more. It affords the basic provisions for how the city operates.

Each City Council member can appoint one person from their district. Additionally, the mayor also appoints one person. The nine-member commission begins its work in January to comb through the Charter, and identify areas it determines needs changing. This can be amending the current charter language, adding new provisions and taking away things from the Charter.

One of the most critical elements to the process is the voice of the citizen. To date, the commission has held two listening sessions where anyone can come before it and propose amendments and share their thoughts and opinions on anything currently before the commission.

The challenge we have faced is the lack of public turnout and awareness.

Did you know the CRC is currently looking at amending the Charter to change the number of City Council districts and how we vote for them? Answering the question of what is the best council system for the best representation in the city.

Did you know the CRC is currently looking at adding an Equity Article to the Charter? Writing into the very fabric of our city, equity for all.

Did you know the CRC is looking at establishing a requirement for a “Keep St. Petersburg Special” community character master plan? Examining criteria for what constitutes a “historic” home or building.

Did you know the CRC is looking at establishing more specifics around the role of Deputy Mayor and City Administrator?

Did you know the CRC is reviewing what it means to have “residency” in St. Petersburg as required to run for a political office?

The work this Commission does will have long-lasting effects on the city. No one should miss an opportunity to be a part of this process. Join us for the next input session on Saturday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Additionally, you can always speak during the public forum portions of our CRC meetings on the 2nd & 4th Mondays of the month at 10 a.m.

To learn more about all of the items before the CRC or to read the City’s Charter, click here.

Meiko Seymour is Executive Pastor at Pinellas Community Church.
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