Legislative Committee

Charlie Justice Shares His Annual County Commission Update With BPW

Make your reservation now as BPW welcomes back the Chairman of the Pinellas County Commission for what has become an annual update to the members and guests of BPW. He’ll share the commission’s successes and challenges and how we can participate in countywide efforts to improve our community.
Approachable. Compassionate. Home town boy. All words used to describe Charlie Justice. One only has to spend five minutes with Charlie to know that he is not your usual politician.
Husband to Kathleen for twenty years and proud father of two young daughters Erin and Allison, Charlie grew up the youngest of five children in the heart of Pinellas. As a student at Boca Ciega High, Charlie excelled in academics, but really thrived at putting smiles on his classmates’ faces. To this day, his colleagues and friends admire his optimism and his ability to bring out the best in any person or situation.
After high school, Charlie attended St. Petersburg College, and the University of South Florida. It was important to him to stay close to his family, and build a life in his beloved hometown. During his time in college, he saw Pinellas County grow at an exponential rate. St. Petersburg and the bay area was becoming a metropolis in Florida, and along with that came typical growing pains. Roads were becoming congested, beaches overcrowded, and crime was on the rise. He decided that it was time to get involved and give back to the community that had given him so much. He became active in local politics, eventually becoming the legislative aide to Representative Lars Hafner. His admiration for our area grew, and so did his calling to public service. Five years later, Charlie earned the opportunity to represent us as a State Representative and later as a State Senator.
Tallahassee is a far different place from Tampa Bay. But Charlie relied on the good people of his district that he has come to know and love. He has succeeded in strengthening rights for our military, bringing home millions in beach re-nourishment funds, standing strong for our natural resources and protecting our coastline from near shore oil drilling and mandating stronger consumer protections for the safety of our families. His constituents demanded more attention and money for our schools, and Charlie delivered. To this day he remains a tireless advocate for education and teachers. His district was concerned about every vote being counted and Charlie delivered again, strongly supporting the switch to paper ballots. He continues to stand up for fair and ethical elections, working to rein in frivolous campaign spending by special interests and raising voter confidence by ensuring that everyone has the right and ability to vote.
Charlie credits his open door policy and community involvement for his success. He is constantly in the community, talking to nurses, teachers and others on the front lines who can offer real solutions to state wide problems. It is because of them that Charlie advocates so effectively for our most vulnerable. He has called for stricter regulations on nursing homes and harsher penalties for elder and child abuse. He supports measures to make our foster care system safer and programs that get homeless off the street. He has brought home funds for community organizations such as PARC, Gulf Coast Family Services, Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, and Vincent House, just to name a few.
Charlie has continued that same philosophy on the County Commission. He is working with many community partners addressing the poverty issues in Lealman, Midtown and throughout Pinellas. He worked to pass ordinances providing relief for wage theft victims, providing assistance to human trafficking victims, and expanded Pinellas’ human rights ordinance.
Charlie’s leadership was recognized by his peers when they selected him to serve as Chairman of the Pinellas Commission. He also has served  as Chair of the Tourist Development Council, the Pinellas Economic Development Council, and in leadership positions of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco- Pinellas Board, the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Pinellas Historical Preservation Board.
Legislating aside, Charlie’s best attribute is his compassion for the working families who are the heart and soul of his community. He empathizes with those who, like him, worked to make their own way and provide for their families. He has an uncanny ability to identify with almost anyone he comes across, and usually ends the conversation by sharing a laugh and a smile. It is this capacity to connect and deliver that makes Charlie an effective leader, and a role model for others looking to serve their community.

A LONG History of Public Service: Wisdom from a Woman in Politics

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet C. Long is no stranger to public service.  Join us when she visits BPW on Thursday October 18 to share her lessons, stories and challenges as a female politician for over four decades. She’s held a number of positions throughout our local and state government, taking an active role in shaping public policy.

Her career in government began as a Legislative Aide working in the Old Capitol. The year was 1975 – before word processing, computers, copy machines, fax machines and electronic communication. It was a time when the legislative process was all done by hand.
In 1980, Janet served as the Assistant to the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation until 1986 when she was appointed by Commissioner Bill Gunter as the Deputy Insurance Commissioner for the Florida Department of Insurance with primary day to day management and oversight of the Regional Office located in Pinellas County. She was reappointed by Commissioner Tom Gallagher and again by Commissioner Bill Nelson.
In 2002, Commissioner Long was elected to the Seminole City Council and elected again in 2004 without opposition. In 2006, she was elected as a Democrat to the Florida House of Representatives from District 51 and served through 2010. In her first year of office, she managed to pass five out of her six bills. She has created an electronic newsletter which keeps her constituents abreast of her activities and those of the legislature. In an effort to ensure that her constituents have a voice, she has held various town hall meetings in her district and around Pinellas County on property taxes, the Lealman fire district and the Pinellas Park Water Management District.
While a member of the Florida Legislature she served on the Military & Veterans Affairs Policy Committee; the Economic Development & Community Affairs Policy Council; the General Government Policy Council; the Insurance, Business & Financial Affairs Policy Committee; the Education K-12 Committee and the Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Committee.
Janet Long was elected countywide to a seat on the Pinellas County Commission in 2012. Commissioner Long serves on the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) Board of Directors, the 2016 Pinellas County Charter review Committee, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA), the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Health and Human Services Leadership board. In addition to her Pinellas County Board of County Commissioner appointments; she also serves as Vice President for the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, and is on the Largo Medical Center Board of Trustees and the Clearwater Central Catholic Advisory Board.

Meet the Candidates: St. Petersburg City Council, District 6

Join us on October 5 as we welcome the candidates for St. Petersburg City Council: District 6. This district which includes the core of downtown St. Petersburg from I-275 east to the water stretching from Old Northeast south to Colony Point has been served by outgoing city council member Karl Nurse. In an incredibly close primary election, 2 candidates emerged to vie for this very important position: Gina Driscoll and Justin Bean. We are delighted that both candidates have accepted our invitation and have an opportunity to share their vision for not only District 6, but St. Petersburg as a whole.

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Gina Driscoll

Gina has lived in St. Petersburg for over 10 years and is dedicated to making the city a better place to live, work, and raise a family for all of our residents. That’s why she’s endorsed by outgoing District 6 City Councilman Karl Nurse.

She is the President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, and has led several projects to improve our neighborhoods including the Clean Waterways Project, renovations at the historic Shuffleboard Club, and donation drives for food, diapers, and other necessities of Daystar Life Center. She has also spoken before City Council regarding issues important to residents, such as the Al Lang Stadium referendum, to ensure that their voices are heard.

Gina has also worked to improve the business climate in St. Petersburg for both large and small business. She serves on the Board of the Downtown Business Association, the Organizational Committee of the Central Avenue Council, and is a member of both the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. While she worked in advertising for the Tampa Bay Times and other local firms, Gina built strong relationships with local businesses and helped them develop successful marketing strategies. In 2015, she also served on the city’s Urban Construction Best Practices Task Force.

She understands the importance of tourism as an economic driver in St. Petersburg. She’s been a leading voice supporting the Sunshine Street Team which is a group of volunteers who help tourists have a better experience in St. Petersburg.

 Justin Bean was born and raised in the St. Petersburg area. He is currently the Business Development and Sales Manager at Reusable Transport Packaging, a growing web based sales and marketing company headquartered in Downtown St. Petersburg. Bean currently Chairs the Williams Park Partnership and SmartBurg. He has served as Chair of SPYP in 2016, was appointed by the Mayor to the Pier Uplands Selection Committee, and currently serves on the City’s Complete Streets Committee. Previously, he served as Economic Development and Arts Chair for SPYP and continues to work as a mentor and serve as Board Chairman for SailFuture, a local Nonprofit that helps keep at risk men from returning to the juvenile justice system.

Election and Installation of Officers for 2017-2018

Elections are always an exciting time for our organization. We are fortunate to have a diverse and strong membership who believe in the mission of BPW and the importance of a strong leadership team.  BPW/SPP is entering an exciting time with new leadership this summer at the state level from our local organization.

Our mission of building powerful women professionally, personally and politically remains as important now as it did 50 years ago.  We encouraged all members to be a part of electing our new leadership.  On April 6 we did elect our officers for 2017-2018.  Tami Simms then spoke about The Education Foundation of the Florida Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.

Then on April 20, BPW/FL President-Elect Alizza Punzalan-Randle installed the new officers for 2017-2018: Liz Illgen, President; Sheila Barry-Oliver, President-Elect; Jane Byers, 1st Vice President; Gretta Paige Bellas, 2nd Vice President; Lily Alcott, Secretary; and Jill Wenner, Treasurer.  Tami Simms will serve as Parliamentarian.

Unhappy Hour in Observance of Equal Pay Day

To recognize National Equal Pay Day and to raise awareness of pay equity and wage discrimination, Business and Professional Women (BPW)/St. Petersburg-Pinellas will hold its 14th annual “Unhappy Hour” on April 4, the symbolic day that the average woman in the United States finally earns the same amount of pay that her male counterpart earned in the previous calendar year.

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History Made: Democratic National Committee Convention in Philadelphia 2016

By Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan

PLEASE NOTE: BPW St. Petersburg-Pinellas is a non-partisan organization. The following is a report from one of our members. Any opinions expressed are that of the author and not the organization which does not endorse any political party or candidate. 

In the early years of our republic, presidential nominees were selected by congressional caucus – a meeting of all party members in Congress who would select their party’s presidential candidate.  Later, with the development of mass party organizations, presidential candidates were chosen by national convention.  The first political party convention was held by the Anti-Masonic Party in 1831. The Democratic Party copied this idea in 1832 to endorse President Andrew Jackson for a second term. National nominating conventions remained the effective basis for presidential selection until 1968.

The process has evolved so that it is no longer in the proverbial smoke-filled backrooms where nominees are selected, but instead delegates are chosen through state caucuses and primaries.  Lately, the national nominating conventions have been seen more as coronations of a nominee who was known well before the gavel struck the podium to open the convention.  However, conventions still perform important functions – dealing with the party rules that set policy for the next four years and drafting the party’s platform that outlines the party stance on a range of important issues.  Conventions are also a great opportunity for the parties to gain prime time media coverage to draw attention to their platform and candidates – and to kick off the general election campaign season.

I participated in the Democratic National Committee Conventions in Chicago in 1996, Los Angeles in 2000, Boston in 2004, Denver in 2008, Charlotte in 2012, and Philadelphia in 2016.

This year I attended the Convention in Philadelphia with my husband, Ramsay, who was a Hillary delegate and one of the whips in the Florida delegation. Days start very early: we needed to be at the Florida Delegation Breakfast by 7:00 am to pick up credentials. And during breakfast we get updates about the day’s events and activities, and we hear from leaders from around the country – many of whom are also speaking on the floor of the convention. Senator Tim Kaine, Governor Howard Dean, Senator Bernie Sanders, Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Al Franken, Governor Terry McAuliffe and so many other national and state leaders.  It seemed like we had a dozen special guest speakers every morning.  Then there are caucus meetings, fundraisers, receptions and other events.  For example, we attended a reception with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (both Ramsay and I worked for her at different times) and a reception with President Bill Clinton (with other former staffers).  We packed as much in as we could until it was time to head over to the convention hall.  We tried to get to the Wells Fargo Center no later than 3:00 pm as the gavel went down around 4:00 pm.  There were so many speakers and special guests beginning at 4:00 pm all the way up until the prime time slots.  We left the arena around midnight and gradually made it back to the hotel. Of course, there were other events and receptions that went into the wee hours of the morning. We were usually back to our room after 2:00 am, and then we had to be back at the Florida breakfast again by 7:00 am.

It certainly takes a lot of stamina to keep pace with the schedule – but one is fueled by the adrenaline and the excitement of participating in such an historic event.  And, for Ramsay and me, conventions are like Old Home Week – we see friends and former colleagues from all over the country.

We even saw a little bit of Philadelphia!  We were engaged at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, and we are celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary this year – so a selfie at the “LOVE” sculpture was a must – and we got up to the top of City Hall to see the William Penn statue up close.  On our way from the hotel to the airport we jumped out to see the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  And, of course, we had soft pretzels and cheesesteaks.  (Convention volunteers welcomed us at the PHL airport with Twinkies!)

For me, the highlight of every convention is watching the roll call vote.  Each state shares a little something about that state and its history and its people – along with casting the vote for presidential nominee, of course.  I celebrate our diversity, and I always look forward to hearing from all over the country – and the world! (Democrats Abroad have a vote – along with Democrats in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Marianas islands.)

I had the privilege of being on the floor with the Florida delegation when the roll call vote was taken on Tuesday night.  Vermont went last – so that Bernie Sanders could be the one to make it official that Hillary would be the Democratic nominee – as a sign of unity and solidarity.

After the vote, Meryl Streep presented a video montage of women in American political history.

And we waved signs that said HISTORY. jsm-1

That night, we made history.

For the first time, a woman became the nominee for a major political party for President of the United States of America.

With all of the excitement of the convention – Katy Perry’s performance of “Rise” and “Roar” just before Hillary accepted the nomination – and Hillary’s speech — the balloons dropping (and those were some big balloons that night!) – none of that compares to the moment on Tuesday night when history was officially made as the delegates cast their votes.

There is much work to do between now and the election on November 8th to ensure that history is made – again – in electing our first woman president. Let’s break that “highest and hardest glass ceiling.”

Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan is a member of BPW St. Petersburg-Pinellas, past Legislative Chair for our local organization and Associate Professor of Political Science at USF St. Petersburg