PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — With more than 30 years of public service as a firefighter, paramedic and deputy sheriff, Steve Sharp wants to be mayor.
“I already have a 100-day action plan,” said Sharp. “I know what I’m going to do when I hit the office on that first day.”
One issue he’ll focus on is economic development. Sharp said the city’s planning and permitting process needs to change in order to bring in more business and jobs.
“If you take the same project, take it to the county and take it to the city, it’s going to take three to four times longer to get it approved and moving in the city and that is hurting economic development,” said Sharp. “I’ve talked to a number of people. They’ve said we will no longer do business in the city. It’s just too hard. It’s not worth it.”
Sharp said his background in law enforcement gives him a unique perspective as he looks to improve public safety and curb gang violence.
“If we don’t have a safe city, nothing else matters,” said Sharp. “We can talk about economic development all day but we aren’t going to get tourists here if we have people getting shot.”
The next mayor will have to tackle the growing problem of homelessness and he wants to help people who’ve fallen on hard times.
“I think the city should support the organizations in our community that are trying to help them,” said Sharp.
However, Sharp said panhandling is out of hand. When he was a deputy, he often talked to panhandlers and he said many of them are transient. They usually come in from out of town, stay here for a short time, then leave.
“I think the city needs to enforce the laws that are on the books, the ordinance on the books and let them know they’re not welcome here and they aren’t going to accost our citizens,” said Sharp.
He said one way to reduce homelessness is to bring down the cost of housing.
“We need to work with the developers to encourage them to build affordable housing,” said Sharp.
Sharp has a tax deferment plan for what he calls “legacy homeowners” who are on a fixed income as well as first-time home buyers. Sharp also pledges to donate 20% of his salary to local charities if elected mayor.
For more information about Sharp and his vision, go to his website.
Early voting continues until Saturday. Election day is Tuesday, Aug. 23.
If none of the candidates get more than 50% of the vote, then the top two will be on the ballot in November. Check wkrg.com all week to find stories about the three other candidates who are campaigning to become Pensacola’s next mayor.