Name: Patty Mahany
Profession: Degree in Veterinary Technology. Worked in the field of veterinary medicine for about 10 years, then managed a large veterinary hospital where I gained invaluable business experience.
Family: Married to Sean, a retired Naval Officer; Four rescue cats; Annie, Andy, Scooter and Tina
Community Involvement: Served on the City Commission for two years; Vice Mayor; President, Woman's Club of Sanford; Board Member of CALNO, the Council of Local Governments; Board Member of Seminole County Public Schools Facilities Planning Committee; Board Member Seminole County Community Block Grant Advisory Board; Vice President, Sanford Airport Memorial Committee; Member of the Sanford Historical Society.
Residency in Sanford: Except for a few years while attending college, I have lived in Sanford all my life.
Name: Richard “Rick” Russi
Profession: Insurance Agent/Property & Casualty and Life/Health; President of Tony Russi Insurance Agency, Inc. I have been in business inside the city limits of Sanford for 35 years.
Family: Parents/brothers are from Sanford, and my two brothers have lived in Sanford for more than 20 years.
Community Involvement: Member of Rotary Club Sanford Breakfast since 1979- 2 Time President; Past Asst. Governor of Rotary District 6980; Served 3 year Term Florida Bar Grievance Committee; Sanford Chamber of Commerce/Former Ambassador of Chamber; Member of First Congregational Church of Winter Park since 1989; Former Board of Trustee Member of First Congregational Church; Founder of Sanford Boxing Club now Seminole County PAL Boxing; Director of Seminole County PAL Boxing (youth outreach program)
Residency in Sanford: Lived in city limits since 2010. Lived in Seminole County area since 1964.
Q. What made you decide to run (or re-run) for election?
Mahany: I decided to run for re-election because I love Sanford, I love serving our City and am excited about, and want to be part of moving Sanford forward with positive growth and good business development. I want to remain a strong voice all of our residents and ensure that Sanford moves in the direction we all want to see.
Russi: Millage Rate Too High, operational costs too high, improve city government communication with citizens, develop program to reduce number of vacant buildings, improve youth program.
Q. How do you see the city’s relationship with businesses in the community and what would you do to improve it?
Mahany: Overall I think our relationship with businesses is good. I think our new "Community Visioning" process, which includes a review of our Comprehensive Plan, our Land Development Regulations and our City Codes will identify ways the city can be more business friendly. Ultimately, I hope we can find a way to reduce our ad valorem property tax rate, which would positively affect businesses and residents alike. We are also currently streamlining our permitting process to the point that some permits can be obtained on line.
Russi: The businesses I talk with in the community feel there is a lack of interest from the city and the Sanford Police Department. The city could create a program of helping new businesses get started by the license department/building department working together to help these new businesses meet city requirements and be able to stay in business. A class could be for advertising/marketing open to all city of Sanford business, taught by volunteers in the community.
Q. What are your suggestions for balancing any potential upcoming shortfalls in the budget? Do you agree or disagree with the steps the city has taken in the past to balance the budget?
Mahany: Overall I don't see the need to cut services to maintain a balanced budget. City employees have taken a 6 percent reduction in pay. All departments have reduced their budget so as not to eliminate any one service or amenity. Our reserve fund is solid. The Mayor and Commission have made the commitment that 2013 will be the year we address pensions, our biggest future concern. I would say I do agree with most of the steps taken to balance the budget.
Russi: A 36 percent reserve the city says it now has is very high, which is good, but could be used to give some tax relief. Being a business owner, I feel each year your income should cover your expenses. I believe we could review other cities in our area that are similar in size, to see how there expenses match up to ours. I do not believe this needs to be an outside study, we should do this in house. As far as in the past, again I being a business owner feel that the expenses should never exceed the income. Stop earmarking funds – we do not need a sidewalk to Interstate 4 for example.
Q. In the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident, what do you think is the greatest challenge facing the City of Sanford?
Mahany: In the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident I believe our greatest challenge will be repairing the division in the community this tragedy has brought to the fore-front, addressing the pain of past racial inequity and moving forward towards one Sanford.
Russi: The biggest challenge is to begin working together to resolve issues. Many members of District 4 have contacted me about their concerns. Based on these conversations, I believe healing will begin when we start listening to all involved. Unfortunately, the black community leaders have not received any requests to meet and discuss their concerns from their current district commissioner.
Q. How would you work to promote a more positive image of the City of Sanford?
Mahany: I would promote a more positive image of Sanford through the effective use of technology and social media, the press and an aggressive marketing campaign. We now have a full time Public Information Officer whose job is to do just that. We also must restore the public's confidence and trust in our Police Department, to ensure those who live and visit here feel safe. This city has it all from the airport to the RiverWalk, the Zoo, the historic downtown, theaters, restaurants, shops, two great museums, fantastic special events, excellent parks and sports venues and a great hospital, just to name a few. It's time we promote what is right with Sanford.
Russi: First, city owned property should be well maintained. This is true of city owned buildings, parks recreation fields and streets. This does not have to cost more money, it is an attitude and work ethic of the city employees and the people who reside and work within city limits. The Police Department needs to work with businesses and individuals when they have a problem. I believe the police officers need to be more of “peace officers” to the citizens.
Q. What qualities do you think it is important to look for in the city’s new police chief? Once hired, what do you think should be the first thing the police chief focuses on?
Mahany: Sanford is a medium sized city with some big city issues. I think our next chief needs to have several years of experience as a chief in a bigger and very diverse city. I think he needs to be a communicator and relationship builder. He needs to also be a listener, because it is only after listening to all the people that he will truly understand how diverse Sanford is both geographically and culturally. If he is not willing to do that he cannot be successful. As to the very first thing he should do when he gets here: I say he needs to get to know his officers and let them know he is there to back them up. Then he needs to reach out to the community and become part of the process of moving forward.
Russi: Experience as a leader, with a background in law enforcement in the state of Florida. Ability to work with and communicate with people of various background. The first thing the Police Chief should do is meet the people and hear their concerns from the 4 Districts in Sanford.
Q. Do you have any specific goals for the next fours years if elected?
Mahany: Over the next four years I want to work to ensure that our city services remain high while keeping spending down. I want to work with our residents to establish a current and comprehensive "vision" for Sanford that will include a review and revamp of our Land Development Regulations, our City Codes and our Comprehensive Plan. We must also address Transit Oriented Development surrounding the Sunrail Station, and the future of public housing in the city. I want to work to attract businesses and development that will bring jobs to Sanford. We must fix troubled city pensions. I want to work to reduce panhandling and crime, and to address homelessness and poverty. I want to develop programs that lead to safer neighborhoods and provide a better quality of life for all of us, and a bright future for our children. Finally, I want to continue to be a part of repairing our image, and our residents trust in our public servants and city leaders.
Russi: Yes, A) Make city more business/citizen friendly.
B) Try to get the vacant buildings occupied, thus, having more jobs within the city.
C) Help to make Sanford competitive, a place the citizens want to work, play and live.