ST. PETERSBURG — Jerick Johnston, a 21-year-old business major at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, is the rookie candidate in this year’s City Council elections.
He is challenging City Council chair Darden Rice for the District 4 seat in his first bid for political office. He is also the CEO and president of his own company, Johnston Consulting.Johnston shared some of his thoughts on issues facing the city in a Tampa Bay Times questionnaire:
• In regards to the sewage crisis, he said the city should re-open the Albert Whitted sewage plant. The 2015 decision to close the plant has been blamed as a major factor in the resulting release of up to 200 million gallons of waste in 2015-16.”St. Petersburg should start by reopening the Albert Whitted sewage plant until other facilities can handle the volume of waste created by the current population,” he said.
• He hopes the Tampa Bay Rays stay in St. Petersburg, but wants to see a stadium built closer to Tampa and North Pinellas.”I think we need to look at where we can get the best attendance to the games for support of the team,” he said. “I would hope to explore the use of resources to build a new facility closer to the major bridges to Tampa and the (Clearwater)/Safety Harbor communities to the north so as to encourage better attendance to the games by fans from all of the Tampa Bay region. I want the Rays to stay in St. Petersburg. I don’t agree with raising taxes for a new stadium.”
• He said he believes the Midtown are could be better served through increased educational opportunities, such as expanding the offerings at St. Petersburg College’s Midtown campus.”The Midtown community should have all the essential services they need, such as a grocery store,” he said. “I would like to see more educational opportunities available throughout the Midtown community. One way would be expanding SPC’s footprint.”
• He also said he supports dedicating more police officers to dealing with issues such as the juvenile car theft epidemic in St. Petersburg.
“The St. Pete Police Department has increased its presence in the community which has created a positive impact,” he said. “That needs to continue. More police presence would help with crime across the board.”