BY CARLYN LOUTOS
Drew Pittman, local real estate agent, business owner, and auctioneer is currently running for Stuart City Commissioner, Group 5. He thinks he would be the appropriate choice to fulfill the role with his family’s long history as Martin County natives, and his sense of community, responsibility, and business. He was interviewed on why he feels he may better the Stuart community.
Q: What made you to decide to run for office?
A: A sense of appreciation and a sense of personal responsibility. I’m grateful that my family name is among the earliest pioneers of Martin County and I want to do my part to uphold the heritage that’s made Stuart so special. As I look into the eyes of my infant son — a fifth-generation Martin County resident — I feel a deepened responsibility to contribute to our community in an even more meaningful way than I have thus far as a business owner and civic volunteer.
Blessed with leadership skills and creative abilities, I’ve received a lot of encouragement from people across the county for some time now to run for office. As I look at the uncertainties and challenges we face and come up with unique ways to strengthen our situation, I feel called to get more involved and give back to this city, which is an integral part of my family lineage and who I am as a person.
Q: What do you think the main objective of the city commission should be?
A: Serving the needs of its residents. That means:
- Carefully managing tax dollars and continually searching out creative ways to bring in revenue outside of raising taxes — which really isn’t very creative;
- Supporting local services and the city employees who provide them, particularly essential services such as fire rescue and police;
- Providing effective, efficient and easy access for Stuart residents to get questions answered and concerns addressed;
- Providing an environment where local business can succeed;
- Upholding our quality of life by protecting the growth rules that the public wants in place and protecting our natural resources;
- Making sure we’re honoring our past, protecting the interests of current residents and creating a better future for our children and grandchildren;
- Continuing open and forthright dialogues with Martin County on behalf of city residents.
Q: What would you say should be the major expenditure of the city commission given the present dwindling resources?
A: Funds must be carefully managed to uphold existing promises to residents that they rely on, including essential services by way of fire and police. But real leaders aren’t elected just to uphold the status quo. That and is why I’ve continually advocated for creative ways to find new sources of revenue: by aggressively marketing city-owned land lease agreements, Web-based marketing our city as a tourist destination, streamlining how we process paperwork, and offering expedited means for handling simple permitting requests.
Q: How may the city commission engage the residents in a more direct fashion?
A: I believe in the Founding Fathers’ principles and “government by, for and of the people.” It’s all made possible with taxpayer dollars, and that must means full accountability to taxpayers. Government business must be before in the light of day, and I would welcome full documentation and broadcasting of public meetings to help engage the populous.
Q: Would you say the current pay rates for city employees are fair, or should they be modified?
A: This is a tough chapter in our history. We’re being challenged like never before and how we respond — as with any trial — is an outgrowth of our discipline and priorities. Right now, people are still struggling with economic uncertainty and certain economic challenges. Unemployment countywide is 9.8 percent.
Local business owners — especially downtown — are feeling the pinch. They expect their employees to perform. Any employee asking for a raise should understand this environment and be prepared to show how they earned the request. It’s unreasonable for anyone, particularly in this economic climate, to expect a raise without earning it.
Q: What is your opinion on the tax rate for local businesses?
A: While increases in essential services are often part of necessary improvements or a consequence of the economy and fuel spikes, any such effort must be carefully considered. Of course, it’s a legal requirement that ample notification is given. But policymakers must understand than any increase in fees or taxes still take dollars from the pockets of homeowners and business owners at a time when those dollars are in short supply.
Q: Where do you think the city commission has failed the city of Stuart in the past term?
A: It’s always easier to find fault than it is to actually govern, and I applaud the efforts of all public servants, including our city commissioners and especially my opponent, for whom I have a lot of respect. It’s certainly been a tough time to be in office and an even tougher time to be in business.
So where I believe the commission has fallen short is more an outgrowth of circumstances in that there is little representation from the entrepreneur community—and that is among my main motives in running. I want to make sure the working-class, small-business owner has an ally and voice on the commission.
Q: What makes you the more suitable choice?
A: My strengths are my adaptability, energy, innovation and creativity. I know and understand our community and have learned to adjust during tough economic times, so I very closely understand the hardships many of our residents have experienced. My ability to advocate on their behalf — in calling for common-sense principles and taxpayer protections — springs from my array of real-life, everyday experiences.
Q: What is your opinion on the city of Stuart developing some sort of transit depot for local transportation?
A: I support measures that will allow us to showcase the beauty of our city, which in so doing should put money in the pockets of our downtown merchants, allowing them to hire and continue their fine contributions to our community. But as much as I support the transit depot, I’m grounded in the realities of fiscal discipline and will demand to see a full accounting for how we’ll cover operating costs. The long-term interests of the taxpayers are my first and foremost concern.
Q: How may the city of Stuart better endorse local businesses?
A: By properly and tastefully promoting Stuart as a tourist destination using our website and other Web-based marketing tools, we can offer a relatively low-cost spotlight to showcase the city that will bring in out-of-area dollars to downtown. Any by thoroughly streamlining city operating procedures and processing, we can make it easier for merchants to do business with the city. By making our meetings more efficient, we can accomplish the same.