County Commission At-Large Group 2: Dominique (“Nikki”) Danielle Zumbo
1) Interests and Reasons for Running
A) Tell us a little about yourself, where you live, and your involvement in your neighborhood (issues impacting your neighborhood).
I am originally from the Orlando area, Central Florida, where I attended public school from K-5 then private school from grades 6 through 12. In higher education I learned about more sustainable ways to live and at FSU majored in political science with an environmental studies minor. I have volunteered with local and state political candidates and found work in property management as a leasing consultant, with a veteran’s service group, and as a legislative session assistant. I live in a townhome in Killearn Estates and have gotten to know my neighbors through family and friends’ events.
B) What event(s) led you to run for elected office?
My property management experience has drawn me to assess real needs of my neighbors – basics like hot water and building infrastructure. Apartment owners are not investing properly. They want to improve the interiors, but they should attend to burst pipes, holes in metal connectors, and pipe materials. Concerns for my own community including students and farmers leads me to assist where I can.
2) Comprehensive Plan Update Process
A) Are you familiar with the comprehensive planning process and its role in guiding growth and development, and protecting neighborhoods?
I think the focal point is rent control. New facilities attract a lot of business. Yes, inflation goes up and population too. In apartment communities, property managers and investors can not do much to control these things. Growth should be matched by raising wages or lower rental costs. Livability is one general concept to note and ask – are people more inclined to live here? Walt Disney sold a dream, a wish. If comp plan is associated with a plan, then policies will be beneficial to the plan. Something I would like to facilitate is one event every year to bring neighbors together and get to know one another. Commissioners can help with funding, permits, staff, and being in the know. Support engagement events and priorities that put neighborhoods above all else. So many homes for sale but people are moving away. My neighbors with new baby moved to Montana because they cannot afford to live here. People leaving can be avoided if developers and others facilitate growth and care for constituents.
B) What role should citizens have in deciding on growth and development policies for our community?
When I was a leasing consultant there was always a special group of tenants that advocate for all, for example, select services from vendor that is not getting done. Residents are the first line of defense and of service. Citizens should have a role and platform to speak on. They can show up to meetings to share concerns, advocating for themselves and for others.
3) Process Used to Decide on the Use of Public Properties
What role should citizens and neighborhoods have in deciding on the use of public properties and how do you think that should work, for example at the Northwood Mall site?
Interestingly when I was an Uber driver, I had two investors discussing that area and issues surrounding it. They said that it was not attracting enough of a crowd. Consider outsourcing contractors, vendors, and companies to fill public properties and attract people. I hear time and again that people here want an ice-skating rink, but need someone to run and maintain, meet the bank mortgage, and need full time staff to fulfill the need. This is so important before development – to know the crowd or the audience. Talk with people working, living, and enjoying the area. They will bring friends, family, and out of town guests. Advertise to other companies and offer promotional events to bring in revenue and entertainment.
4) Growth and Development Decisions
A) ATN believes that growth and development decisions are key to making urban neighborhoods walkable, bikeable, and livable. Do you agree? If so, what specifically would you propose to implement these concepts?
I have assessed areas around town with a college friend who is a young civil engineer. He believes that there are considerable errors in a lot of the sidewalk and bike infrastructure. For example, gutters running into sidewalks and bike signs painted on the wrong side. So, I would propose getting what we have right – not necessarily more of it. I would speak to DOT and correct the civil engineering and architecture of projects before putting more money into it. We are supposed to have the best.
B) In your opinion, has the Commission done enough to equitably share tax dollars and guide growth and prosperity generally, and more specifically, to implement the Southern Action Plan? What else should we do to ensure growth is equitable and benefits all of our citizens?
I don’t know what the Commission has done, but the tax collector receives lots of tax dollars. There is a need for honest work with tax and property appraiser. Intermingling and a lack of understanding has been detrimental, so more communication is needed. In history class I learned that infrastructure is set up to segregate people, which violates fair housing laws. Affordable housing is not well kept but more like ghetto, slums, and shacks. There are no sidewalks and lights are out, so homeowners have no incentive to keep nice. Complaints are futile because HOAs don’t do anything, or they drop the ball. I know friends that have been served letters for long grass, but others are responsible. People should just start doing their jobs and paid well for it. Gentrification does not have to be a bad word. If people are kicked out and rents skyrockets, then that is bad. If you do the numbers and make sure investors are not putting people in bad predicaments. All tenants should be represented, and consultants must follow fair housing.
5) Commissioner/Staff/Management Roles
What do you see as the appropriate role between staff and the commission in decision making?
Definitely there should be a separation of powers in every office. Staff have knowledge and best kept information. It does not work the other way. Staff can make recommendations, but they may not see the bigger picture, also, every staff member is different. Encourage communications and intel for constituents to ensure the initial information is being process. My hope is that staff would send independent sources my way. There should be no restrictions on communication.
6) Issues of Interest to Candidate
Are there one or two issues you would like to work on and/or take leadership on as a Commissioner?
The greatest need in our community is access to care. Too many people are not getting proper medical care. Friends, colleagues, neighbors don’t know the resources that exist. It can be too expensive and take too much time to get prescription drugs. In addition, having – or not having – a job brings constraints. People may not feel comfortable asking their employer for time off to seek medical care and those without work can be busy seeking a job and lack funds. I would like make access to care more effective and timely, for example reach telehealth on line and increase access to mental health services. Too many people are struggling with suicide calls and PTSD on the rise. More listening is needed. I learned a lot about these issues in a FEMA emergency management course.
7) Votes on Key Issues
A) If you had been a commissioner during the vote to expand the Urban Service Area to include the Welaunee Arch (2800 rural acres) north of I-10, how would you have voted? Explain your answer.
I am very hands-on so I would have to look into plans and drive out there to let you know. I cannot give yeah or nay because when I was working in Southwood, I thought it was done. I see it is a plan from the 90s so I would need substantial research to understand the intent. It looks like an infrastructure program, but I wonder if a lot was never done and if it is being utilized today. There are many GIS resources I learned in environmental studies that can identify good soils, for example. I am not well aware of this project, but it seems there are underutilized intentions designated for urban development without utility services. My question is if there are plans for a restaurant, would anybody utilize it? I would like to see the permits, surveys, and planning papers; ask more questions, drive around, and get more information.
B) How about the vote to give $27 million of Blueprint money to FSU for stadium upgrades? Explain your answer.
This is the hardest question. Honestly, I would not want to show up or put in an opinion it is so upsetting. FSU does need upgrades. There are public safety concerns, and the restrooms are filthy. As an alum or a guest, I would not want to go back. I imagine many are picking a different college. They need the money – they need to fix things, but FSU does not need any more champions clubs. I would want to be sure that all the money goes to necessary upgrades and repairs. Disability stall doors are broken and thermostats are old. I cannot say nay or yeah – would have to look at invoices and bids to compare reputable companies and ensure that money goes where it should go and that workers are fairly compensated.
8) Additional Comments
We appreciate you sharing your time and thoughts with us. Is there anything you haven’t had a chance to tell us yet that you would like our neighborhoods to know?
Yes. I think it is so important for neighbors to check on each other, especially coming out of the pandemic. Friends and neighbors have been very sick from COVID and some died. We lost Jimbo Jackson.
I have worked here since 2015 and am well respected and well qualified. I wish other candidates good luck. My hope is that we can be more inclusive and not in opposition because we are running in the same direction. ATN has been a huge community advocate and representative.