Meet Jeff Starkey, City Council Candidate
Jeff Starkey is a business person whose campaign focuses on public safety, community redevelopment and installing a sense of pride in the community.
In advance of the April 9 election, candidates running for New Port Richey City Council answered Patch's questions about their campaigns.
There are two city council seats open. There are seven candidates vying to join the council.
Candidate Jeff Starkey told us a little about himself and his stance on city issues in an e-mail interview.
Starkey has been an insurance agent from 1999 to thepresent and is owner of Great Florida Insurance on Rowan Road. He is married to wife Amber and has two children: Dylan, 4, and Madison, 2.
He is a current member and past board member of the National Association of Insurance Agents and Financial Advisor. He also currently serves as president of the local chapter of business networking group BNI. The chapter is titled “Outlook to Success”.
The following is a (mostly) unedited Q&A Patch participated in with the candidate over e-mail.
Why is Starkey running?
Here’s what he says:
I have lived in New Port Richey my entire life with the exception of my college years. I love this city and all that it has to offer. I feel like New Port Richey is slowly slipping away from the residents who truly care for our city and want it to prosper. I am running for City Council because I truly believe that I can help make New Port Richey a better place. Throughout my years I have gained leadership skills and knowledge that will allow me to make a huge contribution to the City Council. I want my two young children to grow up to be as proud of New Port Richey as I am today.
Starkey on His Qualifications
Patch: What makes you the best candidate for City Council?
Starkey: I bring three important things to this campaign for City Council: 1) Leadership Skills 2) Business Skills and 3) Credibility.
I have worked since I was 14 years old. Even while playing soccer in college and being enrolled as a full time student, I had a job. I have worked under numerous supervisors, both good and bad. As a result I have been able to learn leadership skills that are vital to this role.
I opened my insurance agency from scratch in June of 2005. My wife and I took a risk and took equity out of our home to finance the venture. My business has grown each year since, even with economic down turns. I believe that having keen business skills is also very important to this job. Our city is in debt. Many different things have contributed to this. A municipality such as New Port Richey can be looked at like business in many ways. My business background is another asset that I bring to this position.
My credibility also makes me the best candidate for City Council. I consider myself to be an extremely credible person. One gains credibility by doing what they say they are going to do. This is something that I take great pride in and has only helped my reputation both professionally and personally.
Patch: What makes you a good steward of taxpayer money?
Starkey: This is something that no public official should ever take lightly. It is a huge responsibility. I consider myself to be conservative when it comes to spending and investing. Decisions have been made here in the past that we are still trying to fix. These conservative monetary views along with my business background and extremely conscientious personality make me a good steward of taxpayer money.
Starkey on the Issues
Patch: What are the top 3 priorities of your campaign?
Starkey: My top three priorities are: 1) Public Safety 2) Community Redevelopment both downtown and along the U.S. 19 corridor 3) Installing a sense of pride back in our community
Patch: Redevelopment continues to be a major issue for the city. What would you want to change to spur redevelopment?
Starkey: A business owner should feel that the city is working with them, not against them. The city currently does not have this reputation. Opening a business in NPR should be a positive experience.
Also, redevelopment ties in to public safety. We have to clean up our city. Our police department is the key along with community involvement. People are addicted to and selling prescription pills and breaking into houses and cars to steal in order to feed their addiction. Great strides have been made by law enforcement to combat this problem but it needs to continue. These individuals should not feel comfortable walking our streets. Redevelopment and public safety go hand in hand.
Patch: What’s the biggest barrier private employers doing business in the city or wanting to move here face that can be changed locally? What can you do to remove it?
Starkey: Once again, new businesses need to feel welcome. From what business owners have told me, there is often times too much “red tape”. We should be courting successful businesses to open up in our city, not the other way around.
Patch: What is the biggest issue New Port Richey neighborhoods face and how would you tackle it?
Starkey: The biggest issue neighborhoods face is the prescription pill epidemic that both NPR and Pasco County are combatting. Individuals that were law abiding citizens get hooked and it often leads to them breaking the law to feed their addiction. The problem occurs in all of our neighborhoods. A neighbor that lives within 30 yards of my house was just arrested as part of a prescription drug sting operation. Law enforcement has their hands filled and they need all the support we as a city can possibly provide.
Patch: What ideas do you have for helping the Recreation and Aquatic center raise its revenue?
Starkey: Marketing. You just do not hear anything about the complex. There should be more advertising for summer camps, swim lessons, the fitness center, etc…
Patch: How would you tackle the crime and public safety issues in the city?
Starkey: Once again, we have to give our police department all the resources that we can offer. The lines of communication between the police dept. and city officials need to be opened. City officials and the police dept. need a positive working relationship in order to achieve our goals.
Patch: Should the city continue its Animal Protection Unit? Should it be moved to another dept?
Starkey: I have no problem with the city continuing to provide animal protection to its residents. However, there needs to be structure. I commend all of the volunteers that devote so much time and effort to the program. I do think that it is important to remember that this unit is there not only
to protect the animals but to protect our residents and our children from animals that are not secured properly that can do bodily injury and harm. I do support animal rehabilitation when possible but we need to be careful here. Can the city afford to care for and house animals for extended periods of time? We need to impose guidelines addressing this issue and have structured agreements with animal rescue organizations that can work with the city to find sheltered animals homes in a timely manner. Any agency needs structure and definition in order to operate successfully. I do not feel that this unit should be part of the police department.
Starkey on Leadership
Patch: What makes you a good leader?
Starkey: Honesty, focus, passion and respect are the four traits that I believe make a good leader. I am proud to say that I have all of these traits. I am not saying this to sound arrogant. I am not arrogant but I am confident. I would not be running for this position if I did not believe that I am a good leader. I think that anyone who has worked for me would agree as well as people who know who I am and what I am about.
Patch: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or your campaign?
Starkey: I’ve covered quite a bit in the previous questions. I do want people to know that I am not doing this for self-gratification or selfish reasons. This is not the first stepping stone of a sought after political career. I have never thought of myself as a politician. I was asked to run for City Council by individuals who are vested in this city just as I am. The bottom line is that I love New Port Richey and all that it has to offer. I feel that our city is slowly slipping away from the individuals who do care about New Port Richey and its future. We shouldn’t be losing quality, law abiding residents to Trinity and other areas of Pasco. I live less than a quarter of a mile from the house that my parents lived in when they first took me home from the hospital. They still live in that same house. The values that were installed in me by my parents can still be seen in their household. It’s the neighborhood around the house that has changed. The power is not in my hands. It is in the hands of NPR’s residents. If they choose to elect me to City Council there should be absolutely no doubt in their minds that they are choosing a candidate who is passionate for our city. They will be electing a candidate who will do everything in his power to make New Port Richey the city that we all know it can be.
Check back with Patch for more on Starkey's and other candidates' thoughts on specific topics in the coming days.
Want to meet the candidates in person?
Come to New Port Richey Patch's Candidate Forum and hear them talk about their campaigns at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, at New Port Richey City Hall, 5919 Main St.