The Osceola News-Gazette believes it’s important for our readers to learn more about the local candidates wishing to represent them.

In the days leading up to the Aug. 28 primaries, we will run responses from candidates running for the following local public offices – Osceola County Commission, Kissimmee City Commission, St. Cloud City Council and the Osceola County School Board. Below are the candidates running for St. Cloud City Council seat 5.

Donny Shroyer

Current position/occupation: St. Cloud City Council Seat 5 (incumbent)

What are your top priorities if you’re elected?

One of the top priorities for the city of St. Cloud includes providing adequate infrastructure such as roads, water, sewer, and storm water run off. This is due to uncontrollable growth and residential developments.

Donny Shoyer

Second, the city also has a need for economic development growth. Staff and city models suggest 25-35 percent of citizens should be commercial/industrial businesses. We are under 5 percent. Lastly, we also need to provide services that come with growth. The provision of fire, police, and public services will be a true challenge to the city.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of St. Cloud’s continued growth?

Providing the services needed such as schools and education, water and capacity levels, fire and training facilities and police and community safety concerns.

What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for residents?

Local government can play a major role in facilitating and developing affordable housing in St. Cloud. Our council can plan and ensure there is an appropriate supply and mix of housing to meet community needs. The council can and may encourage the construction of affordable housing by offering incentives to developments which will include it.

Thousands of Hurricane Maria evacuees arrived in Osceola County last year. Many have since said they intend to stay in the area. What role do you see these citizens playing in Osceola County’s future and what role should government play in assisting evacuees with this transition?

Everyone has a purpose and a story to tell. These citizens will become history as their new lives begin here in Osceola County. As the county responds to the diversity, I believe you will see new opportunities arise in business and retail as our community grows. Government can assist evacuees by sharing and disseminating information about job opportunities and housing availability.

When it comes to the tourism industry, what can local government do to attract new business investments and opportunities while still addressing the needs of current residents?

Local governments can attract new businesses by helping them find venture capital and business loans. It takes money to make money. St. Cloud can plan and develop infrastructure that help businesses work and become competitive in today’s ever changing business world. We can streamline permitting and regulatory policies and help businesses get started sooner rather than later. Stability in our local government is a must, stability represents predictability and the opportunity for enterprises to gain foresight into their businesses future.

What motivated you to run for this position?

As a current councilman, I want to be reelected. I want to use my current knowledge and facts on issues facing St. Cloud to vote on truths, with transparency and honesty. I have enjoyed the last seven years of serving the people of St. Cloud and wish to continue. The growth in St. Cloud is out of hand and my wish is to continue voting “no” on this out of control growth. I also want to continue advocating for St. Cloud at the state level to secure state funding for local projects.

What experience do you bring?

I have networked with state legislators to help us secure possible appropriations for local projects.

I am president of the Tri-County League of Cities which includes Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

I am chair of the Water Co-Op of Central Florida which includes St. Cloud, Toho water, Orange County, Polk County and Reedy Creek.

I am the city liaison to the Florida Municipal Power Association. I am on the St. Cloud Main Street Board of Directors.

I have built a balanced budget for St. Cloud minus a fire fee.

What is the biggest obstacle facing St. Cloud’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?

In St. Cloud, the biggest obstacles are roads. The local leaders must insure that there are adequate roads for all this new housing construction. It has been past practice to build and worry about infrastructure and roads later.

 

Keith Trace

Current position/occupation: Civil engineer

What motivated you to run for this position?

My friends, family and lovely wife motivated me to run for elected office,

Keith Trace

but I think the final decision came when I realized our city is at a crucial turning point, and they need leadership that understands growth and development. I too drive the roads, wait in long lines at the grocery store and see our crowded schools. I promise to bring smart, common sense leadership and decision making to City Hall along with respect, dignity and honesty.

What are your top priorities if you’re elected?

• Ensure new development pays for its impact to our community.

• Support small businesses, helping them open and grow in St. Cloud.

• Absolutely no new taxes or fees. We’re expected to live within our means, and our government should too.

• Provide much needed support to our first responders, police, fire and EMS. They need the resources, tools and staff necessary to keep us safe.

What do you believe is the most challenging aspect of St. Cloud’s continued growth?

Anyone who has driven a car in town lately understands the effects of growth on our community – traffic and congestion. We need to ensure our local government puts together the right plan to correct our traffic issues.

What role should the government play in making affordable housing more accessible for Osceola County residents?

As the past chairperson of the Osceola County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee, I have worked to provide affordable housing solutions to members of our community. With my experience, I can help the City better utilize the State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program (SHIP) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) programs to ensure more affordable housing solutions are brought to our community.

Thousands of Hurricane Maria evacuees arrived in Osceola County last year. Many have since said they intend to stay in the area. What role do you see these citizens playing in Osceola County’s future and what role should government play in assisting evacuees with this transition?

One of the most important functions of government is to help families moving into our community quickly transition to their new home. Any transition is difficult and even more difficult if you are displaced from your home. We should do all we can to make this transition as seamless as possible by simply being good neighbors, supporting our schools and providing opportunities for them to get acclimated should they choose St. Cloud as their new home.

When it comes to the tourism industry, what can local government do to attract new business investments and opportunities while still addressing the needs of current residents?

Our local government can help attract new business investment by delivering the best customer service experience and streamlining the business licensing and permitting process. We need to remove obstacles and make it easier to open a business in St. Cloud, which in turn will benefit our residents by providing more amenities close to their home.

What experience do you bring?

I have served in leadership roles for numerous community boards and non-profit organizations on the topics of development, planning, education, housing and transportation. Serving in these capacities is a great way to give back and get involved in the community. I am also a licensed professional civil engineer and realtor. I have the skills and ability to recognize the core issues of the city and effect change. Aside from experience, I truly care about where this community is headed, and I think that is one of the best qualities any candidate can bring to the table.

What is the biggest obstacle facing St. Cloud’s future and what role should local government play in solving it?

I believe St. Cloud’s biggest challenge will be sustaining growth while holding onto our heritage. While we celebrate other cultural traditions from all over the world in our community, we need to tell our story to residents new and old, and never forget the traditions that built us. This is the key as we continue to make St. Cloud a place we can all raise our families for generations to come.