By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE - No matter who wins the Fort Pierce mayor's race, history will be made in the city as Linda Hudson faces off against Vincent Gaskin. In November, voters will decide if the city will have its first African-American mayor or its first female mayor.
Hometown News asked the candidates the same questions about their campaigns. Their answers are below in alphabetical order.
Hometown News does not endorse any candidates for political office, but instead provides information about each candidate for voters to make an educated decision.
Name: Vincent Gaskin
Occupation: Bail bondsman, private investigator
Children: Six children
Name: Linda Hudson
Spouse and children: Husband John, one son and three grandchildren
Q: How long have you lived in St. Lucie County?
Gaskin: I am a native of Fort Pierce.
Hudson: I was born in Fort Pierce. I returned to Fort Pierce in 1994.
Q: Why should voters choose you?
Gaskin: Because Fort Pierce needs a fresh approach to the challenges it faces and new leadership to get things done. I can provide that leadership, a new generation of leadership which is inclusive, responsive and committed to all of Fort Pierce's future, not just one section of the city. It is my commitment to the future of Fort Pierce that has led me to seek the office of mayor.
Hudson: I served on the citizen's budget advisory committee in 2010 and 2011, and have a thorough knowledge of the budgets for both the city of Fort Pierce and the Fort Pierce Utilities Authority. I have been chairman of the downtown farmer's market for the past four years and have served on the board for almost 10 years. I am the president of the Treasure Coast Genealogical Society. I am a leader who researches the issues and listens to residents. I am a strong voice for fiscal restraint. I am an advocate for complete and speedy access to public records and a strong proponent of transparency in government. City government should be fair, honest, efficient and open.
Q: What are the top two issues you wish to see addressed?
Gaskin: High unemployment rates and public safety. We have to be able to get jobs into our city. Some of the ways we can start is by changing the height restriction so we can get hotels and a convention center built. Secondly, we have to make the licensing and permits process simpler, and still offer tax incentives to businesses. The other issue is public safety. We've got to take our streets back by providing our officers with competitive salaries to keep them motivated. It would be a start in the right direction.
Hudson: The city should emphasize essential, affordable city services, like public safety. The priority issues will be starting the city on the road to financial health and fostering a friendly business climate to keep existing businesses and attracting new businesses, so that Fort Pierce residents have well-paying jobs and prosperity.
Q: If you could, what would be the one thing you would change in the city and why?
Gaskin: The high unemployment rate. It would be a top priority for me. I will push hard to get jobs to come to our city. Families are starving and cannot pay bills.
Hudson: I would improve the neighborhoods west of U.S. 1. There are many neglected and forgotten neighborhoods in Fort Pierce. I would like to see the residents of these neighborhoods have better economic opportunities through increased job opportunities. In some neighborhoods, safety is an issue. Safe streets and neighborhoods are essential for a prosperous city. The city of Fort Pierce will be on a tight budget for the foreseeable future, so this will not be easy. I want to encourage community pride, and work together for the betterment of neighborhoods.