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Jennie Blackburn

REDINGTON SHORES — Following her win over longtime District 1 Commissioner Tom Kapper, Commissioner-elect Jennie Blackburn told Tampa Bay Newspapers what issues are important to her and what she would like to accomplish during the next commission term.

Her plans, she said, include steps to improve communications with district residents, and increased fiscal and environmental responsibility.

Improved communications

Blackburn said she wants to keep residents and businesses in District 1 better informed of events and changes that could impact them. She would do this by using conventional methods as well as through social media “to reach residents and have them reach us.”

She also plans to have regular office hours at Town Hall to listen to the concerns and issues facing constituents so that she can better represent them.

“I’d like to make it easier for them to privately express their concerns or get information and ask questions,” she said.

Blackburn promises to be totally prepared for commission meetings and workshops “so I can contribute productively.” She said, as a new commissioner, she is committed to learning all she can about her assigned areas of responsibility to better serve the town.

Fiscal responsibility

In the area of fiscal responsibility, Blackburn said she wants to encourage a more responsible small bid process, to reduce the instances of what she calls “contractor favoritism.”

Another priority for her is supporting the town’s floodplain management activities. Actions taken by the town have led to lower insurance premiums for residents. Blackburn, as a member of the PPI (Program for Public Information) committee, has been involved in that effort.

“I want to encourage all initiatives to keep our town flood insurance premiums low,” she said.

Blackburn also wants to keep property taxes low. The town currently has a 1.8 millage rate, the third lowest in the county. She advocates going with the “rollback rate” to keep property taxes flat as property values increase.

Environmental responsibility

Blackburn says she is a champion for environmental responsibility. She will support the beach renourishment program and encourages citizen participation. She also fully supports the Turtle Conservancy’s beach lighting grant program.

Blackburn said she supports the undergrounding of utilities on the west side of Gulf Boulevard, as the budget permits, and the continuance of sewer upgrade programs as it moves to reline the town-owned lateral sewer lines.

She wants the town’s parks and beach to “remain up to date and well-maintained,” and will seek grant money “to keep our parks current and well-used.”

A town dog park

As an animal lover with two dogs of her own, Blackburn said she would love to make Redington Shores more dog-friendly. “I want to start by finding out what steps need to be taken to get a dog park established,” she said.