Supporters behind Greenlight Pinellas unveiled their new promotional “A Team,” a variety of community leaders tasked with convincing Pinellas County voters of the need for countywide upgrades in public transportation.
Yes for Greenlight, the grassroots campaign for the Greenlight Pinellas plan, announced today the addition of several key staff members, as well as the creation of both an Advisory Board and a political committee.
It is a series of moves that leaders call “significant steps” to spread awareness on how the Greenlight Pinellas plan will dramatically increase regional transit.
In a statement issued Thursday, Don Ewing will be the new co-chair, joining St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Chris Steinocher. Ewing is head of the Council of North County Neighborhoods and President of Haruspex Business Software in Clearwater.
Joel Giles, Tom Morrissette, Stuart Rogel, and Bob Clifford will make up the initiative’s Organizational Committee, whose function is to support decision-making by the co-chairs.
Giles is a shareholder with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt and former Public Policy Chair for the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Morrissette is president of the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. Rogel is CEO of the Tampa Bay Partnership, and Clifford serves as CEO of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Friends for Greenlight — the heart of the Yes for Greenlight campaign — also filed a formal political committee with Joe Farrell, Director of Public Affairs for the Pinellas Realtor Organization, serving as Campaign Manager. The group will present its first financial report on or before April 10.
For the newly established Advisory Council, Yes for Greenlight tapped a wide range of countywide civic and business leaders.
The inaugural 20-person team includes Sierra Club regional rep Phil Compton, Florida Consumer Action Network specialist Tim Heberlin, Duke Energy Government/Community Relations District Manager Melissa Seixas, Crescent Oaks HOA president John Miolla and former St. Petersburg City Council member Jeff Danner.
As for public relations, promotions and voter relations, Yes for Greenlight hired Gainesville-based governmental agency Strategic Guidance Systems to provide polling research and voter outreach, and the renowned St. Petersburg public relations firm B2 Communications for advertising and media relations.
The job of this ambitious team will be to develop public awareness of the Greenlight Pinellas initiative, which centers on a voter approval one-cent increase in sales tax set for on the November ballot. If passed, the referendum will eliminate the current Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority property tax, and increase Pinellas County sales tax from seven to eight percent.
The additional revenue will extend the PSTA operating budget to $130 million, and provide a nearly 65 percent increase in bus service, as well express bus lanes and a move to a more efficient grid system.
Among the service improvements are buses running to and from Tampa in the evenings and on weekends; a four-fold increase in bus service in northern Pinellas; longer service hours to accommodate night workers and travelers; and – in the most controversial aspect of the plan — begin construction of commuter rail from St. Petersburg to Clearwater via the Gateway/Carillon area.