Lifelong Sarasota resident Kelvin Lumpkin believes the biggest thing he can bring to the table as an at-large Sarasota city commissioner is the relationships he has built city-wide.
The 39-year-old senior pastor of Life of the World International Church, which sits on the outskirts of Newtown, believes as a city commissioner he can help unify the communities that make up Sarasota.
“I’ve been wrestling for some time about the best way to serve my community,” Lumpkin said. “I don’t want to just represent my district. I want to represent the city at-large. You have to keep your finger on the pulse of the whole community.”
The registered Republican doesn’t believe government should impose anything on its citizens, especially without community input first.
“The city should act as a partner with the community, and I don’t see that happening right now,” Lumpkin said. “Partnering and building relationships with constituents is the only way to serve people effectively.”
Lumpkin is a former member of the city’s Police Advisory Panel and has spent countless hours in police squad cars on ride-alongs with police officers.
“We have some big issues to address such as the police pension fund,” Lumpkin said. “We have to bargain with them, and, to do that, we have to get to know them and understand where they are coming from. I’ve already done that with many of the officers.”
Redevelopment of the North Trail and Newtown, Lumpkin says, can’t happen until the violence is curtailed.
“I performed six eulogies (in 2011) and five of them were shootings,” Lumpkin said. “If the area isn’t safe, it will never change. Having grown up here, I long for the area to succeed and be able to sustain itself, and it can, if the area is safe.”
Lumpkin was one of several city officials and residents who, in fall 2012 visited High Point, N.C., to see how its police department and the community joined forces to get drug dealers off its streets and curb violence by more than 50%.
“Law enforcement has to drive this new violence-curbing effort, but the community has to be involved,” said Lumpkin, who believes both the new police chief and city manager will be big advocates for community policing.
The High Point Strategy program has been successful in other towns in which community leaders, such as pastors, agree to sit down with police and criminals before they are arrested for a crime. Repeat offenders are told they are no longer welcome in the community if they keep up their criminal behavior. The plan calls for the community agreeing to work with repeat criminal offenders to get them on the right path and keep them out of jail.
Lumpkin, the president of the local chapter of FOCUS, Fellowship of Community Under Shepherds Ministerial Alliance, that builds relationships with other churches and law enforcement, has already seen that effort work locally.
The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has called Lumpkin to the scene of shootings.
“There’s just something about your pastor showing up that creates a calming effect,” Lumpkin said.
Lumpkin, who has friends downtown, in South County and in Newtown, said he’s a bridge builder who will make decisions with the whole community in mind.
“I hope I can be a part of a commission that’s farsighted and not shortsighted,” Lumpkin said. “I’ll be one of five, but I believe even one can make a difference, and I can help make this a better place to live. I serve people, and being a commissioner is an extension of my mission.”
Family: Wife, Dali; two daughters, ages 1 and 2 years old
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Bethune College; working on a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida
Hobbies: Football, fishing and chess