Keeping Sarasota's streets safe is one of the big campaign themes you'll hear from City Commission candidate the Rev. Kelvin Lumpkin.
"Just last year I eulogized six people under 23 years old, and five of them died by shooting," said Lumpkin during a campaign kick-off event Tuesday night at Eat Here Sarasota. "That's not acceptable to any of us."
The Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores resident's goals include implementing the High Point, N.C., community policing strategy, create incentives for new businesses and reinstall confidence in local government.
Two at-large seats are up for election on March 12. If no candidate receives the majority of votes, the top three candidates move to a May 14 run-off election. The elected commissioners would take office May 17.
Lumpkin also touched on making sure the city avoids its own "fiscal cliff," making sure neighborhoods aren't in constant fights with developers while keeping their character.
"I'm going to be a catalyst for change to help businesses and residents thrive together," he said.
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John Harshman, a board member of the Downtown Sarasota Association, believes Lumpkin can lead by example of keeping youthful talent from Sarasota in the city.
"We got to keep our young people from going to school in Sarasota and moving off to some big city someplace. Kelvin is the young people and he wants to come to the city commission, come downtown and help us build a better city," Harshman said.
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.
Lumpkin is married to his wife Dali and has two daughters. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1998 from Bethune Cookman College and is working on earning his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Florida. He is a lifelong resident of Sarasota, and his mother was born here in 1938, he said.
Lumpkin served on the State College of Florida Board of Trustees during terms in 2002, 2006 and was on the Florida attorney general's gang task force in 2010, according to his biography.
"I decided to get in the race not because of all that I saw wrong in Sarasota, but quite the opposite—what's right about Sarasota," he said. "I believe Sarasota is an incredible place to live."
Henry Battie, owner of Cravat's Custom Clothiers, supports Lumpkin because he considers Lumpkin to be a genuine person.
"He's compassionate about the people that he serves and if we elect him, he will bring that same passion and compassion to the people of Sarasota," said Battie, who is a member of Lumpkin's church.
The deadline for filing to be a candidate is noon Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.