Big Issues

Re-Elect Julie Ward Bujalski for Mayor of Dunedin

Leadership

Being your Mayor is more than just a figurehead for Dunedin.  The Mayor sets the tone for Dunedin and should reflect its personality.

First, I value the well-being of others.  In doing so, respect for our residents and what’s important to them comes first.  Representing you in everything we do is paramount.

Second, in setting that tone, Dunedin needs to be at the forefront of county and regional issues.  We are a city of many firsts.  We need to continue to foster creativity and working with other cities to find efficiencies and stand together on united issues.

Third, fostering the equality and importance of all the civic groups in our community will bring people together rather than divide.  These groups are vital to the very make-up of who we are and bring great value to moving Dunedin forward in thoughtful ways.

And finally, smart decision making.  The City is an organization that needs responsible financial guidance.  That’s just government 101.  But it’s the people that make Dunedin special and the City organization is a tool to keep us that way.  As your Mayor, it’s my job to guide policy decisions that support our Village Vibe.

Spring Training

The existence of Major League Baseball in Dunedin has been a prominent economic driver for our community for 40 years.  Spring Training brings in roughly $85M of economic impact to Dunedin and Pinellas County.  But it’s not just about the economic value – it’s part of the Quality of Life we’ve all grown to love.  It’s one of the many ingredients that makes Dunedin’s winning recipe.  Our contract with the Toronto Blue Jays expires next year & this is something that Dunedin does not want to lose.

As your Mayor & Toronto Blue Jays Liaison, I’ve worked with the Jays to rebuild our sometimes strained relationship from the past.  I’ve joined the Chamber and made two ambassadorial trips to Toronto to meet the new leadership and I’ve worked with them to build stronger relationships with both County and State Officials.

We have worked very hard to get where we are today and we appreciate you patience as we’ve gone through this process.  The confidentiality agreement has expired and all phases of our discussions will open, transparent, and driven by community benefit.

In preparation for our funding applications to the County and State, we’ve had over 100 meetings working through many details.  Currently, we have a concept for the capitol needs of both the stadium and training site.  A Public Commission Workshop was held on September 26th to discuss the proposed capitol concepts, funding options, and next steps.  In addition, an Open House for our residents occurred on September 27th.  This event allowed our residents to get up close and personal with the project and the experts.  If you missed any of these events, please click on the following link so that you can learn more about the proposal.

Spring Training Project Website

Once the funding applications are submitted, we will begin the negotiation on annual operations, maintenance, and future capitol needs.  We understand that this is equally, if not more important to our annual budgets.  This will need to be a true partnership with the Jay’s organization.

While Spring Training is important to our local economy & quality of life, the cost to Dunedin residents is important too!  The final project & long term agreement must be affordable – not only for today’s residents but for our future generations as well.

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Dunedin Causeway Bridge

causewayThe Dunedin Causeway has long been a place where our residents spend their weekends enjoying our beautiful St. Joseph’s Sound.  We can’t afford to have a bridge from end to end that consumes our beach.

A practical yet compatible bridge must be reflective of Dunedin’s precious waterfront!

Through many public meetings, our residents have stated that their choice is the Mid-Level Bridge.  As your Mayor, I have and will continue to work with County Leaders to ensure your voice gets heard!

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Development

For a number of years, our economy was down and development was slow.  But in the last 3 years, the economy has started picking up and along with it – development has too.  Many of the open lots around town that were once empty are beginning to see construction.

Now that we are seeing all of this development around town, many are questioning what direction we are heading.  It feels like we are no longer the quaint village we once were.  And with no disrespect, we certainly don’t want to look like Clearwater Beach!

As your Mayor, I understand how important it is to listen to your concerns and allow your voice to be heard.  We need to re-evaluate our development codes – including density, incentives, architecture, and the need for affordable housing.  We also need to ensure that our impact fees, especially for park land, will preserve our needs for the future.

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Parking in the Downtown

Downtown Dunedin has grown into a unique destination for residents and visitors alike.  Our former Mayors and Commissioners laid out their vision for a bustling yet quaint downtown and 30+ years later, we have achieved that vision but we are busting at the seams.  While this is a great problem to have, we need to be visionary and not only add parking locations to our downtown, but we need to create new forms of transportation to get there.

While representing you, we’ve completed several parking studies, added many parking leases, entered into a public/private partnership (P3) for a parking garage, and created a parking bank that developers can pay into.  We’ve planned for a Municipal Services Center that will include a 2nd parking garage and we’ve brought weekend Jolley Trolley service to our downtown.

2014 Trolley PicAs your Mayor, I voted against the “paid parking” plan that is currently in place.  I felt it was too much of a one-size-fits-all approach to solving the problems that we have.

Instead, I went to work to bring creative solutions.  I’m proud to say that we have partnered with PSTA & multiple North County communities to bring the Jolley Trolley to Dunedin 7 days a week, starting Oct 1st!  (The same day as paid parking starts.)  This new service will also go to the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium seasonally during Spring Training.  And this new service comes at “no” additional cost to you, the Dunedin resident.  We are currently looking for Park & Ride lots along the Trolley route in order to keep the cars out and the people in!

This common sense approach should alleviate some of the strain on our available parking during tourist season & Spring Training.

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Citizen Input

Your voice is the most important thing we can utilize in doing our job.  It’s what brings a community together.  It is not burdensome or embarrassing in any way.  It tells us whether we are heading in the right direction.

There has been a lot of community discussion about how negative things are going.  What I see is frustration, lack of trust, and folks that feel they aren’t heard.

As your Mayor, we need to bring everyone together.  Our Merchants, our City Staff, and our Residents all have the best intentions and valuable input.  No one group is more important than the other.

Our Merchants have put their blood, sweat, tears, and life savings into the businesses that make Dunedin what it is.  They have valuable insight as to what works and doesn’t work.  Their voices matter!  Our City Staff have invested every ounce of their professional knowledge into ensuring Dunedin’s future is vibrant and secure.  Their voices matter!

Norman Rockwell Freedom of SpeechAnd our Residents who have to live with the decisions that get made everyday.  They count on us to represent them and ensure we have a high quality of life.  Their voices matter!

Now, more than ever, we should be taking a step back to listen to everyone we represent.  We should be making it easier to communicate – not harder.

Here are a few things we can do to improve our two way dialogue –

  • Listening Sessions Around the Community on Issues that Folks
  • Facilitator Driven Visioning Sessions Where Residents Can Gather & Collaborate About What’s Best for Dunedin
  • E-Town Hall Meetings with Live Questions & Answers
  • Smaller, More Frequent Commission Meetings that are Issues Oriented to Allow for More Focused & Thoughtful Debate, While Having Plenty of Time for Citizen Input

We have two ears to listen and one mouth to respond.  As representatives, we can always do better and I believe we will.  Only Democracy can keep Dunedin Delightful!

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

New City Manager

One of the most important decisions for the future of Dunedin is the selection of the new City Manager.  Dunedin operates under a City Manager Form of Government.  This person is essentially the Chief Operating Officer of Dunedin.  Therefore, we must have a thoughtful search process, clear qualifications, and a valued interview procedure.

As you may know, our City Manager resigned under less than favorable circumstances.  There are a pool of experienced folks across the country and they are well informed about their colleagues and what circumstances they have left their current positions.  Unfortunately, this greatly affected the pool of applicants for Dunedin.  Therefore, we suspended our search until after the election.

dCityHall01mdStep One – We must use a reputable and experienced Recruitment Firm.  These two qualifications should be the most important and cost should be second.  Having gone through a CEO search process three times over my tenure in public service, I know they all cost about the same.  If a firm is significantly less, then you get what you pay for.  And it will be important that we search Nationally, not just in Florida.

Step Two – The bar needs to be set high for qualifications.  This person should have City Manager experience in multiple communities, both large and small.  They should have experience in Community Redevelopment Areas, Public/Private Partnerships, Community Communications, Tourist Based Communities, and Quality of Life Initiatives.  Experience working with Major League Baseball & Coastal Communities are a definite plus!

Step Three – The interview process must be broad and allow the public to participate.  Once our top five are picked, having one-on-one interviews will be important.  But having a group interview will also be important.  Allowing a meet-and-great for our Department Heads and the general public is also crucial.  Everyone’s voice needs to be heard.

As your Mayor, I will ensure that we embrace this commonly used process.  After all, this person will lead us into the future.  What they bring to the table will assist our community to plan appropriately, solve issues, and enforce the policy decisions that will keep Dunedin Delightful.

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Overall Issues

But we can’t stop there!  There are many everyday issues that still need to be accomplished:

  • Fund & Build a New Municipal Services Building
  • Ensure our Residents have an Easy & Inexpensive Process to Improve their Homes
  • Complete an Economic Development, Traffic, & Streetscaping Improvement Plan for SR 580
  • Get Additional Soccer Fields for our Youth
  • Fund & Build a New Aquatic Center
  • Work with Clearwater to Improve the Recreational Facilities located on Dunedin Elementary School Property

THAT’S SETTING THE RIGHT TONE FOR DUNEDIN!

Have I missed anything?  What’s important to you?  Email me at jbujalski@verizon.net or call me @ 727-639-3458 and I would be happy to talk or meet with you at your convenience.  Your input is important to me!