City Commission Seat 5: Shelby Green

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 came to Tallahassee in in 2014 to attend FSU and graduated from there in 2020 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. I was a Southern Scholarship Foundation scholar.  As student I lived on Jackson Bluff Road and was a member of the Providence Neighborhood Association and am currently active as a friend of Providence. I currently live with my husband in Lafayette Park and he is a member of the Lafayette Park Neighborhood Association Board.

During college and since graduation I’ve had a lot of experience working in the county, at the FSU Mag Lab, in water quality, studying how government functions, software development and map development, environmental justice looking at statewide trends in pollution, green gas emissions.  Communities don’t use these kinds of maps to identify issues such as these. When I worked with Leon County I learned the value of data analysis how to use data to develop and write policy and how to measure implementation and success.

B) What event(s) led you to run for elected office?

The City’s response to Covid particularly as it related to the moratorium on and repayment of utility bills, and the general poor level of communication with the people. In 2020, the city issued a moratorium on utility bill payments and advertised that thoroughly and communicated that.  However, once the moratorium was lifted no communication was made with the public in the same way as the notice of the moratorium. As a friend of Providence where I used to live, I researched what the situation was and the availability of debt repayment schedules. I called the city and was told the moratorium had not been lifted when in fact it had. Some people in Providence had accumulated $10,000, in debt and weren’t aware of the impending cancellation of their services nor of how to apply for debt relief funds.  I made a public records request and received a list of folks in the neighborhood who were in debt and reached out to them to assist and provide information.

This disrespect, dismissal and poor communication prompted me to run for office.

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 am familiar with the comprehensive plan but public engagement is not at the level it should be. The plan does not include a ban on clear cutting trees.  Also, the plan is too uniform and should be more diverse, with more time given to talk about what growth means for each neighborhood in the city. Community advocates voices aren’t represented and the public was not engaged in an effective, equitable and respectful way

B) What role should citizens have in deciding on growth and development policies for our community?  

Neighborhood associations and citizens need to be continuously engaged rather than provided shotgun opportunities to participate and provide feedback. The city should recognize that there areas in the city where there are technology barriers to communication and to opportunities to provide input. And then create ways to engage citizens and ensure equitable participation.

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 and how do you think that should work, for example in the development of the Northwood Mall site?

The city commission decided what they wanted to see on the publicly owned Northwood Mall site then they mailed out a survey and notice of meetings for community input. The only city service or public entity they proposed was the new police station, offering the rest of the site for private development. That is not a true public space because it does not serve the public interest.

The city commission should continue to solicit input and ideas from the community, andvmaintain an aggregate list of what the people want on a public and continuous basis.

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 do agree that smart and sustainable growth and development are needed for enhanced livability, fueled by data. For example, I propose that we regularly collect data on where there are higher incidents of traffic and bike safety incidents and accidents, so that the public and the city government can know what is needed. The data will help us know how our infrastructure is lacking and how to adjust accordingly on an ongoing basis. Several aspects of the Airport Gateway project need to be revisited, because this project causes roads to be widened and increase car traffic and gas emissions, which also run through Innovation Park providing increased accessibility only to students and faculty. Are these assets or detriments to the community?  Growth and development needs to serve all residents and be sustainable, to ensure walkable livable and healthy neighborhoods.

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?  

No, the commission has not done enough.  Single family Housing growth has occurred in the Northeast or in the southwest for luxury student housing. This approach does not serve all of the people.  We need a smarter and more conscious approach to development in all areas, particularly in the Southside in order to better maintain our natural resources. Development and growth need to be integrated and built out in a way to preserve conservation and good water quality.

5) Commissioner/Staff/Management Roles

What do you see as the appropriate role between staff and the commission in decision making? 

The appropriate role for staff is to provide guidance and follow up on Commissioners’ questions. The responsibility falls on Commissioners to use staff for guidance.  Currently, staff has too much power, with a lack of transparency and respect for the citizens. Also, the City Manager has a lot of responsibility for growth and development. The city manager has the authority to approve any project less than $500,000 and it does not need to go to the city commission for approval. 

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? 

Reopen and resume service at the Amtrak station. Amtrak is getting additional funding, and the Feds are pushing funding for infrastructure. We live in the Capitol City which has not had commuter rail service in about 17 years.  Reopening service and making rail service available to our student population, business travelers and vacationers would allow Tallahassee to be a sustainable, connected and open city Data helps to understand what needs to be done, what the barriers are to getting it done and then providing the opportunity for solutions and updates. A sustained and continuous data system including collection, regular review, updates etc. needs to be developed across the board so that a more targeted approach can be taken in identifying problems and solutions.

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 would not have voted for Welaunee Arch because existing citizens are not receiving services and should be the priority. Commissioners are influenced by developers with capital and political influence. We need a commissioner who understands the needs of the existing residents.

B) How about the vote to give $27 million of Blueprint money to FSU for stadium upgrades? Explain your answer. 

I would have voted no on this issue. This project practically bankrupted Blueprint for stadium upgrades that most residents would not be able to enjoy. I would have worked for a compromise funding amount. 

The $27 million could have been better used for developing programs to help businesses regain their footing after the pandemic. Or to install solar panels on business properties to help reduce their utility bills or to help retrofit their businesses with less reliance on ou existing energy system.  This $27 million for FSU was not an equitable return on investment.

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?  

 People are being dismissed and disrespected. People can’t pay their utility bills and cannot buy homes. Again, communication is poor. Currently the will of the city commissioners is that of the wealthy institutions and developers. I am challenging the incumbent who does not care about the public and their interests. I voted for the incumbent in 2018 because she committed to increasing opportunities and access to social mobility for those on the Southside but has moved in a different direction and has yielded her power to other interests. She does not care about the public or their interests.

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