This week I will reach the 100-day mark as mayor of The Sunshine City. It may be a symbolic milestone, but it’s a moment worthy of a pause to appreciate our accomplishments to date and our opportunities ahead.
During the campaign, I had an unofficial motto: listen, learn and lead. Sitting in coffee shops and restaurants, attending meetings and community forums, walking door to door and visiting small businesses, much of my time as a candidate was dedicated to simply listening and learning.
Following the campaign, the work done by our unprecedented volunteer transition team reinforced much of what I had heard from voters and also provided me with additional information and ideas.
As mayor, I have continued to listen and learn — only now it helps to inform the important decisions I make. It helps me to lead.
Understanding what’s important to our community, what our community values, is what led me to remove the fence around the pier the very moment I was sworn in. It’s why I made our police department’s high-speed pursuit policy more stringent, protecting innocent bystanders and our men and women in uniform. It’s why I wasted no time signing on to Mayors Against Illegal Guns or rolling out new green initiatives. It’s why I recognized that driver behavior has improved to such a degree that our red-light camera program will soon be no longer needed.
Progress has also been made on the high-profile issues that dominated the campaign.
On the pier, I have held numerous meetings with community leaders and stakeholders working to build consensus on a new process and way forward. On the Rays, I have met with their leadership and remain confident that people of good faith can come to an agreement that preserves both our interests. In the meantime, I hope you will join me in cheering our team on in anticipation of a World Series championship.
We’re also making good on our pledge to rededicate ourselves to South St. Petersburg. Our goal is to invest our time and resources in people, not just places, creating opportunity for every willing resident. Making City Hall more accessible to neighborhoods in and around Midtown is an important first step, and we’ve done that by opening two satellite offices at no expense to taxpayers.
Each Sunday through the summer, a new outdoor weekly farmers market on the “Deuces” at 22nd Street and 9th Avenue South will bring fresh food and cultural options to the neighborhood.
Many other economic development, housing, education and cultural affairs initiatives are underway in South St. Petersburg. We’re blazing a trail toward sustainable progress that enhances the quality of life there, while elevating our entire city at the same time.
This is only a sampling of the more than 100 ways we’ve moved St. Petersburg forward in our first 100 days. A complete list can be found at www .stpete.org/vision.
However, our most exciting and integral advancement is the introduction of a new vision and planning model for the city, an initiative spearheaded by Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.
Like every mayor before me, I come to this office intent on elevating our city to a higher level. The establishment of a vision that guides our work is the defining determinant of my team’s ability to successfully translate that intent into action.
The margin of excellence in which St. Pete’s next level waits to rise requires expert leadership, as well as management. If we are to seize the opportunities that exist at this moment, we need a team committed to visionary advancement. A mayor mired in details at the mutual exclusion of an overarching goal that meaningfully ties those details together for the benefit of the city’s long-term future misses the mark.
The vision is organized along four strategic pathways: stewardship and fiscal responsibility; innovation; impactful service and community engagement. This provides parameters to which every member of our city team is held accountable and clarifies our intended destination for all who come to live, work and play.
It allows our 2,700 team members to pursue departmental priorities in an integrated way that delivers an amplified impact. It articulates our aspirations and the expectations of our community, setting the bar for transcendent public, private collaboration.
And perhaps most importantly, it delineates a singular overarching goal that differentiates our city and propels it toward its highest potential.
We’ve intentionally focused on the “why” behind what we do as much as the “what” to ensure our plans and actions align with purpose.
We also are developing three- to -five-year strategic plans while crafting solutions to the daily issues and opportunities that arise. This is why we’ve worked hard to develop the vision and planning model that supports it in our first 100 days.
Our policies and positions will reflect this work.
Our city’s common goal, as articulated in our vision, values and pathways, will be our litmus by which decisions are weighed. This is the Kriseman administration’s prescription for progress. It calls all of us to action on our shared journey to be a city of opportunity where the sun shines on all who come to live, work and play — an innovative, creative and competitive community that honors our past while pursuing our future.
The campaign is over. The transition is over. And our first 100 days are coming to an end.
In City Hall, there are no more excuses. Change begins with us. The sun shines here.
Rick Kriseman is the mayor of St. Petersburg.