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Foster offers new skills in District 8 race in St. Pete


Published:   |   Updated: August 10, 2013 at 11:10 PM

ST. PETERSBURG — Although a newcomer to local politics, Amy Foster has a long track record of civic involvement during her 10 years in St. Petersburg.

The 35-year-old is a founding board member of the Industrial Arts Center in Gulfport, vice president of St. Pete Pride and a former adviser of the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.

Now she wants to bring her organizational skills to City Council and is running for District 8. Foster said she would bring a different dynamic to the male-dominated city council, which has just one woman member who is term-limited this year. Studies show women are more likely to do a better job building consensus and producing “win-win” solutions, she said.

“Watching the City Council meetings I felt there was a skills set I had that could bring something new to the table,” she said.

While campaigning, Foster said, the overwhelming concern raised by residents is crime, particularly in and around a slew of low-cost motels on 34th Street believed to be havens for drug dealing and prostitution.

Foster said she would push for tougher code enforcement, including specific rules to address budget motels.

She said she also wants to add more police officers. Although city officials say the department is fully staffed with 545 officers, Foster said the ratio of officer to residents is lower than that in Tampa.

“The perception is cops are busy with downtown bars,” she said. “We just don’t have enough officers.”

To create jobs, Foster advocates more public-private partnerships and said some city entities such as Sunken Gardens might be better run in partnership with the private sector. She wants to attract more businesses to the area by boosting training for school students by coordinating with the Pinellas County School District and by training more adults for leadership roles.

She said she wants to work with the private sector to bring a broadband network to the city, and feels the city could compete for more federal dollars by having a full-time grant writer.

Foster, who grew up in Louisiana, works as national program manager for the National Girls Collaborative Project, which works with 39 states to encourage girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Foster said she is lucky her job allows her time to campaign — a luxury that many working people do not have.

“Most people can’t do this so their voice will never be heard,” she said. “So I have to make good decisions for everybody.”

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