At-large candidate Martin Hyde shares his thoughts on the key issues ahead of the March 14 election.
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Name: Martin Hyde
Profession/experience: President of Gulf Business Systems since 1999. Previously, director of Copyforce Ltd. in the U.K.
In a crowded field, what makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
In a management sense, I’m the most qualified, having run complex multimillion-dollar enterprises for 30 years. I have experience in all relevant areas from finance, human resources, policy creation and supervision. In my world, if you get it wrong, you lose clients and money, so I’m acutely cognizant of performance.
If elected, what would be your top three priorities during your term on the commission?
- To move the elections from March to November, saving taxpayers $100,000 on each election while increasing voter participation threefold.
- To re-establish public safety through adding police officers, reversing a trend of decline over the past 20 years, where we now have over 25% fewer officers than we used to have.
- Addressing the pensions deficit by adding immediately to the fund via savings made on wasted legal fees and additional layers of management that we’ve added.
How would you serve as a good financial steward of the city’s budget?
I’m the only candidate who has made any mention of fiscal policy during the campaign to any meaningful extent. I know that if we run out of money, it’ll be the citizens that’ll be forced to pay higher taxes for fiscal mismanagement, and I won’t let that happen.
How do you believe the commission should strike a balance between maintaining an economically vibrant city and addressing concerns related to growth?
Being economically vibrant and being responsible are not mutually opposing aims or goals. It’s possible to encourage and advocate for success while preserving the things that matter to most of us, such as the environment we live in.
How will you evaluate the forthcoming form-based zoning code?
The form-based code I’d actually read and study, which obviously those that passed it who are now against it — such as Fredd Atkins — didn’t! I’ve heard people’s concerns and I’d take those into account.
What role should the city play in the development of the 42 acres of city-owned bayfront land surrounding the Van Wezel?
The development of the land around the Van Wezel is very exciting. It gives us a one time opportunity to add something world-class architecturally to our bayfront that wouldn’t be a condo or hotel. A Sarasota School of Architecture masterpiece housing something that reflects citizens wishes, whether it’s a new auditorium, an aquarium or a museum, or maybe even all three. Lots of water access and plenty of area for crowds for events by the bay would be important too.
What steps should the city take to address homelessness and associated issues?
The city can manage its homeless population with compassion but not with a blank check. City government doesn’t help people’s lives better than organizations set up with the express purpose of helping, such as the Salvation Army. We should fund them more and for our part, manage the streets for all citizens’ needs.
What steps do you think the city should take to address traffic-related issues?
We need to direct better, as many of the users in peak season aren’t locals. Helping people to get PAST the city to the south or north would be preferable to having everyone congesting downtown.
How should the city encourage the creation of alternative housing types, particularly workforce and affordable housing?
We should look to smaller units to decrease costs, including exploring the tiny-house projects that are popping up all over the U.S. Flexibility on taxes and impact frees in exchange for definite criteria on pricing long term would be helpful too.
How can the city do a better job of attracting and retaining young talent?
We have plenty of young talent. To make it worth their staying, we need to offer a more inclusive lifestyle recognizing their right to have fun. We can all help by buying local and seeking to support local entrepreneurs in their new businesses, which create the vibrant economy that creates well paid jobs.
How would you attempt to work with the County Commission on issues of interest to both governments?
I would emphasize that the city is, in large part, the “golden goose,” and that working WITH us will encourage the continued wealth creation for the rest of the county.
Do you believe the city should restrict the use of administrative review for development proposals?
Would you consider raising the general fund millage rate from its current level?
Do you support the creation of a paid parking system in the city?
Do you support the role of Sarasota Bayfront 20:20 and the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization as the primary planning group for the redevelopment of the bayfront?
Do you support the use of downtown as a venue for large-scale, multi-day events?
Do you support the creation of a parks & recreation taxing district?
Do you think the city is growing too fast?