St. Petersburg City Council candidate Barclay Harless thinks the current council is too loose with its spending of taxpayer dollars.
Harless, a Democrat, met with the Tampa Bay Times’ editorial board Thursday to discuss his thoughts on affordable housing, the pier reconstruction and the issues with which the people of District 2 and the Gandy Blvd. corridor are most concerned.
He highlighted infrastructure and the lack of government savings as primary concerns. Barclay said he firmly believes St. Petersburg needs to be put more money in reserves.
“I think we need to save more money today prepare to keep and maintain core services during an economic downturn,” Harless said. “If there’s a downturn, that’s the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever seen was having to cut core services.”
Harless, 31, a Bank of the Ozarks manager, hopes to replace term-limited Jim Kennedy, a Democrat who has served on the council since being appointed in 2007.
He drew on his financial experience, frequently starting sentences with, “From a banking perspective…”
“Most importantly, your clients trust you with their money,” Harless said. “I’m used to that requirement of being a steward of someone else’s money. That’s very familiar to me.”
Harless has worked for State. Sen. Darryl Rouson when Rouson was in the State House. Harless has been active in the community, including state policy chair for the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Pinellas Charter Review, where he sponsored an amendment stipulating citizen-drawn redistricting for the county commission.
Harless and opponent Brandi Gabbard were supposed to debate today at the Tiger Bay luncheon, but it was canceled due to Hurricane Irma.
It would have been one of the first times people could hear from both candidates in public. Harless said he hasn’t gotten the chance to hear enough of Gabbard’s positions to distinguish their campaigns based on policy. But from a personal standpoint, Harless prides himself on having experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.