In advance of the April 9 election, candidates running for New Port Richey City Council took some time to answer Patch's questions about their campaigns.
There are two city council seats up for grabs. There are seven candidates vying to join the council.
Candidate Michael Malterer told us a little about his stance on city issues in an e-mail interview.
Malterer, 24, is operations manager for Penske Truck Leasing. He lives with wife Katelynn and dog Elvis. Katelynn is pregnant with the couple’s first child.
Malterer is currently a member of the Pearl of the West Masonic Lodge. He is also a mentor (Big Brother) in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. In addition, he serves at his church, Generations Christian Church, in the outreach ministry. He is also a former youth pastor.
The following is a (mostly) unedited Q&A Patch participated in with the candidate over e-mail.
Why is Malterer Running?
Here’s what he says:
I am running for City Council because I love New Port Richey, I want New Port Richey to be the best it can for my child and I believe that I can bring a unique perspective to Council.
Malterer on His Qualifications
Patch: What makes you the best candidate for City Council?
Malterer: I believe I bring a unique perspective to Council. I have a fresh set of eyes to bring to the issues the city is facing but I also grew up here so I am aware of New Port Richey's history.
Patch: What makes you a good steward of taxpayer money?
Malterer: I have never voted to raise taxes. I believe that the optimal tax rate is zero, and that we should work up from there. I understand that "taxpayer money" is not the City's money to spend or save, it is the public's money and they should keep as much of their own money as possible.
Malterer on the Issues
Patch: What are the top 3 priorities of your campaign?
Malterer: My three issues in this campaign are, making the city more business friendly, eliminating red light cameras and spurring progress in the redevelopment process.
Patch: Redevelopment continues to be a major issue for the city. What would you want to change to spur redevelopment?
Malterer: Redevelopment will not be a short process. I believe that in the short term we need to look at a public-private partnership for these properties but should also consider offering tax incentives to businesses and developers who may be interested in these properties.
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?
Malterer: Before and during this campaign, I spoke with several business owners who all described the permitting process in New Port Richey as one of the toughest around. I believe we should change that. I will be an advocate for streamlining that process. I will work tirelessly to make New Port Richey the best place to open up for business.
Patch: What is the biggest issue New Port Richey neighborhoods face and how would like to tackle it?
Malterer: New Port Richey neighborhoods face a multitude of problems, blight and crime are two that are at the forefront of those problems. I don't believe either will be solved overnight. I however do believe that there are some relatively simple steps we can take to curb these issues.
Crime - I will always be an advocate for the police having every resource they need to do the best job possible. I believe that a community watch program would go a long way to helping this issue.
Blight - We need a City Code that works and is easily enforced but that also respects the rights of property owners. I will be an advocate for taking a hard look at what codes work and where we need to do some work.
Patch: What ideas do you have for helping the Recreation and Aquatic Center raise its revenue?
Malterer: The Recreation Center is a world-class facility. I believe that if we combine membership and user rates that make sense along with an aggressive marketing plan we can recoup some of the money that the City is spending on the Rec Center.
I think it might be wise to let a private fitness company come in and run the exercise and weight room and maybe even someone to run the concessions. I believe that these ideas coupled with increased membership and participation by private teams/schools will help make the Rec Center a destination spot in New Port Richey.
Patch: How would you tackle crime and public safety issues in the city?
Malterer: I am committed to public safety; I will make sure that the Police have all of the resources they need to do their job effectively. As I explained in the earlier question I am also an advocate of setting up a community watch program. In this program, volunteers would be given safety equipment, like a flash light, rode flares or triangles and they could patrol neighborhoods after going through a training course that would be offered by our Police Department. They would be on patrol so that they can identify crime like behavior and notify the police via walkie-talkie or cell phone. I believe this type of citizen effort combined with effective police patrols will help curb our crime problem.
Patch: Should the city continue its Animal Protection Unit?
Malterer: The City should continue the Animal Protection Unit. I do not believe it should be under the direction of the Police Department though. I believe that Council needs to work with the City Manager and the Director of Animal Protection to implement the proper procedures for the Animal Protection Unit so that we never find ourselves in the same situation as we did just recently.
I also believe that we need to build a facility for this unit as soon as possible. I do not believe it is wise to continue to rely on the SPCA and their facility.
Malterer on Leadership
Patch: What makes you a good leader?
Malterer: I am a servant leader. Typically power is held by the person on top and handed down from there. I believe that to be an effective leader you need to share the power, and put the needs of others before yourself. I have practiced this philosophy in the private sector as well as my personal life.
Patch: Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you or your campaign?
Malterer: I believe that New Port Richey is ready for a change. I believe that the citizens are ready for new blood and want a citizen legislator. I am an average guy who goes to work everyday and understands the issues facing families in our city. I will always be committed to helping the community that I grew up in.
Check back with Patch for more on Malterer 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 campaign at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 20, at New Port Richey City Hall, 5919 Main St.