Kelvin Lumpkin: Candidate For City Commission
Kelvin Lumpkin is running for City Commissioner at-large in the 2013 municipal race.
Candidate: Kelvin Lumpkin
Neighborhood: Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores
Moved To Sarasota: Born In Sarasota
Employment: Pastor at Light of the World International Church.
Treasurer: Eric Robinson
Campaign Info: ElectKelvin.com
The Rev. Kelvin Lumpkin is born and raised in Sarasota, and wants to see that his hometown succeeds.
"I love my city, and I want to be a part of helping it and grow and be better," Lumpkin said. "I'm concerned about the plight of north Sarasota, and its effect on the whole city. I believe if it thrives and prosper, it will be a domino effect for the rest of the city."
Lumpkin, said he's uniquely qualified for the city commission for having a lifetime of service in Sarasota and having built relationships with people and organizations throughout the city.
This is Lumpkin's first run for public office. He created and leads the FOCUS group, which is a ministerial alliance organization for the Newtown neighborhood that also works with police and nonprofits to help keep the neighborhood safe. He is also the senior pastor at Light of the World International Church.
It's because of his work through those service groups that influenced Lumpkin to run, seeing the trauma that families experienced in north Sarasota and eulogizing young people dying from violent situations.
"I realized that I had to engage my church and my community, and whatever influence I have, big or small, if you have influence, you have responsibility to leverage it for the greater good," Lumpkin said.
Lumpkin believes economic growth is key to helping add revenue to the city, and some neighborhoods have to rid themselves of a reputation of not being welcoming to development.
"Some neighborhoods are depicted as anti-growth and anti-business. There could be individuals, and I know there are," he said. "I don't think that's really true. I think there are a many neighborhoods that want to see a business come in and thrive. I just think they want it to be compatible."
Lumpkin points to the proposed Walmart at the Ringling Shopping Center where some don't want the store and others just want the store to "be a good neighbor."
"I think we just to have to have a process that gives the neighborhood a voice, but yet don't drag it out so there's not uncertainty for developers," he said.
But if the growth isn't there and the economic development isn't coming, Lumpkin said "we have to be open for business."
"I don't think we can tax our way out, I don't think that's the answer, but we may have to consider a modest raising of the millage rate," he said. "But let it be known that I don't think you can tax your way out of it."
For redevelopment of the North Trail and the Rosemary District, Lumpkin wants to take a long-term vision and approach.
"First get to the symptoms of why people don't want to reinvest in those areas," he said. "To me, making it safe consistently, I think is the root cause to making it more attractive for investment."
He said Rosemary District needs more affordable housing to help kick-start development and the activity there would carry over to downtown.
"I think the city can do some things that maybe make it more attractive to have affordable housing there," he said. "What I hear along the [campaign] trail, especially from a lot of young people, is that they want to live here, but they don't have affordable housing."
However, downtown is vibrant, and the sound ordinance needs to be looked at, Lumpkin said. He said he liked the idea of the entertainment overlay district to allow more live outdoor music.
"I don't think everybody's going to be pleased 100 percent, but I think a vibrant downtown is great—I think it's good," he said. "I think it's key to attracting and retaining young people in this area."
The homeless issue centered in downtown should be approached carefully, but if someone is committing a crime, they ought to be arrested, he said.
"First of all, being homeless is not a crime," Lumpkin said. "But if anybody's breaking the law, being homelessness should be irrelevant. Enforce it. There are individuals who are breaking laws and behaving unseemly in the Five Points area, and I believe it's affecting business."
The Street Team cleaning crews is a positive program creating jobs for homeless that the city should continue, he said.
"It's out-of-the-box programs like that, that are within the city's power that we can do and help solve the homeless problem," he said.
But who in the city should have the power when it comes to setting the tone in City Hall?
"I'm definitely not opposed to an elected mayor," Lumpkin said, but the current structure is working out fine.
"If we have commissioners whose only concern is the city's well-being and not promoting a particular point of view, then the more I think our structure can work," he said. "I'm not going to lose sleep over the issue one way or another. I just want to be a part of a commission that puts the city's interests ahead of our own."
What's the worst decision the city commission has made?
"The city's decision making process than their actual decisions. Some people felt right or wrong that the commissioners' minds are made up while they're having public input. If that is the case, then I'm more critical process than the actual decision they come to. Only time will tell if their decision was right. I do want to see a decision making process that is open minded."
What is the best decision the city commission has made?
What issue has the commission focused on too much?
"The parking meters lived long way beyond its time."
What should the commission focus more on?
"The city's budget issues have to be a priority. We have a looming fiscal cliff ourselves. We still have a few years left. I think this next commission has to make some decisions that will benefit the commission that comes after it."
Why should a voter choose Kelvin Lumpkin?
"I'm a bridge builder. I'm more suited to bridge both sides of this community, and I think that's what we need. We need people who will do that. …
North Sarasota has to become attractive to outside investment, and we have to show that we're committed to our community. We've got to work hard to be attractive to outside investment. …"