ST. PETERSBURG - With advertisements for his business on the back of public buses, a blog and his regular commentary at City Council meetings, David McKalip is no stranger around town.
McKalip, 47, has blasted City Council, on and off, since 2006 for what he sees as mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Now, he wants to be on the other side of the dais and is running for the District 4 seat on City Council, his first attempt at public office.
"It's time for the citizens to take back control from the political class that expects them to pay the bills and keep their mouth shut," he said. "I'll make sure that it's their city.
A brain and spinal surgeon, McKalip's campaign is based on his belief in lowering taxes and reducing government regulations. He said he would like to scrap the regulations that limit the use of electronic messaging boards and operation of food trucks and to ease building and zoning codes, allowing businesses to grow and the city to attract more manufacturing.
McKalip wants to reduce property taxes by $10 million, lower the tax the city levies on utility bills and use city reserves to make up the shortfall so services don't have to be cut.
"The best way [to create jobs] is to cut taxes and cut utility bills so individuals and businesses keep money in their own pocket," he said.
McKalip also would like to replace city employees' pension benefits with 401(k) plans. With benefits, city staff cost an average of $75,000 per year, he said. The city's median income is roughly $44,500, according to the U.S. Census.
"It's time for 245,000 citizens of St. Petersburg to stop paying for lavish benefits for 2,700 city employees," McKalip said.
McKalip has been criticized for having poor judgment. In 2009 he stepped down as president-elect of the Pinellas County Medical Association after he forwarded an email with a made-up image of President Barack Obama in a loincloth and with bones in his nose. He later apologized.
A St. Petersburg resident for most of his life, McKalip said he spends most of his free time contributing to the community. "I fight for liberty. I Write Sunbeamtimes.com, work for the Florida Medical Board," he said. "I work in grassroots to educate citizens about our freedom; and, once in awhile, I play golf."
Family: Married 22 years, three children
Occupation: Brain and spinal surgeon
Education: St. Pete Junior College; University of South Florida College of Medicine; neurosurgery residency, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Civic experience: Suncoast Health Council, Florida Medical Association, West Central Florida Boy Scouts, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce policy committee
Should the city use red-light cameras? No
Will you vote to stop the Lens? Yes
What to do about the Rays? "The Rays should pay their own way. Taxpayers cannot afford another stadium."
Campaign donations raised: $30,543