St. Pete resident Steve Galvin enjoyed a fully engaged life working in the entertainment industry in Southern California for much of his adult career. So he admits that if you had told him five years ago he'd be running for political office, his response would have been along the lines of, "you have Googled a different Steve Galvin."
He credits his wife (who works in the St. Pete City Attorney's Office) and his own involvement in the North Kenwood community (where he's lived for the past decade) as his inspirations to run for the City Council District 8 race this summer. Outgoing Councilman Jeff Danner's resistance to move two historic homes from Fourth Avenue NE into Kenwood, is another motivation for Galvin's jump into electoral politics at the local level.
Galvin has many skills — he's a musician, a home builder, and he builds custom motorcycles from scratch. His issue with Danner developed after he offered to renovate the aforementioned historic homes, Bay Gables and the Henry-Bryan house, which were poised to move from their downtown location into Kenwood a few years ago. Although the local community was supportive, Danner wasn't; he was the only council member to reject the proposal (St. Petersburg Preservation also opposed the move).
"That planted the seed," the 55-year-old said of his dissatisfaction with the outcome, as well as his desire to get involved politically.
But as somebody who does construction work, Galvin said those skills should have a representative on the council where decisions are frequently made on capital improvements and historic preservation, especially now that the only current councilman with such a background, Danner, is departing this fall due to term limits.
Galvin said one of the glaring issues in need of reform is the strip of motels along 34th Street. He said making changes is a problem when there isn't an easy solution, other than the city purchasing some of the notorious motels, which he realized is a non-starter.
Regarding the Lens, Galvin said that as a "builder of unique structures," he has an appreciation for the Lens design.
"I don't reject it based on its visual aesthetic," he said.
But he said he has an issue with the process, and besides, based on his canvassing, it would seem absurd for any candidate to support it.
"Out of probably 500 people I've spoken to, I've encountered maybe three who are pro-Lens," he asserted.
He believes the city should have curbside recycling. He said that a recent response at a candidates forum regarding once a week garbage pickup has been misinterpreted.
He's alluding to a comment regarding streamlining services in the city, a comment that he said was more impromptu than planned.
"The idea was not everybody needs twice a week (garbage) pick up. How about we did once a week of traditional pick up and once a week curbside recycling. People who wanted to participate, could participate. It wouldn't be mandatory," he said.
Blogger Peter Schorsch subsequently paid for a poll
to be conducted on the issue, which revealed that an overwhelming majority of St. Petersburg residents don't want to cut back to once a week pickup.
Then again, the name of the ubiquitous Schorsch brings a derisive laugh from the candidate, who said that the poll was trying to "make me look not ready for prime-time, I guess." Schorsch has taken a number of shots at Galvin on his St.Petersblog 2.0 site, including the candidate's choice of apparel on one occasion.
When contacted, Schorsch was unrepentant, "The last thing St. Pete's City Council needs is a goofy amateur like Steve Galvin. We've had enough guffawing coaches, lawn-men, and part-time photographers. Fortunately, Galvin is stuck in single-digits in the polls, so I don't worry too much about him."
But Galvin said he's having the time of his life on the campaign trail.
"I really thought the canvassing would be unenjoyable. I thought there would be a lot of doors slammed in my face, but to the contrary, people have been so nice and willing to open up and talk," he said.
Galvin is running against three other candidates in the District 8 contest: Amy Foster (who CL profiled
last month), Alex Duensing and Robert J. Davis.