Local businessman and civic activist Justin Bean is the latest candidate to jump into the crowded field vying for District 6 on St. Petersburg’s City Council.
The 30-year-old Uptown district resident is the business development and sales manager at Reusable Transport Packaging, a web-based sales and marketing company in downtown St. Petersburg.
Bean is also the chair of the Williams Park Partnership and founder of SmartBurg, an organization focused on economic growth and development in the city.
Bean ramped up his interest in city affairs during the debate over building a new Pier three years ago. This ultimately led to his appointment by Mayor Rick Kriseman to the Pier Upland Selection Committee.
Last week, the St. Pete City Council voted to ask Pinellas County to reallocate $14 million in TIF funding to the Pier project, the tab for which is now at $66 million and counting. Several Council members expressed doubts about requesting that all $14 million go to the Pier, a sentiment that Bean endorses.
“I have reservations about spending that much money on the Pier,” he said Tuesday. “I think there are some things that are important that are on that list of enhancements, but I also feel that they should have been in the budget, so it’s frustrating.”
Bean said if it were up to him, he’d spend that additional money on somewhere else in the city. He says his number one priority is infrastructure projects. “That’s a top priority, and Council and the mayor should be treating it as such,” he says. “That’s what I’ll focus on that we’re moving that forward.”
Another role that brought Bean to downtown issues was his role as the chairman of the St. Petersburg Young Professionals.
“I have helped to grow my family’s business. I have worked to turn Williams Park into a world-class outdoor venue. I helped give the St. Pete Young Professionals a voice in city matters. Now, I want to bring that experience and perspective to City Hall,” continued Bean. “We are a city growing younger and more diverse every day, and it is time that we embrace that trend while still respecting our history.”
Bean also served as an adviser on the redevelopment plans for the Tropicana Field property, which Kriseman has proposed as the ideal site for the Tampa Bay Rays to play at after they exhaust their search for a stadium in Hillsborough County.
“This site from all the research that’s being done is really the only public piece of land that is immediately developable, right?” he said on Tuesday, acknowledging that some people support a stadium at the Derby Lane site.
Two things that he says the city needs more of is affordable housing and office space for the burgeoning business community.
“We have a housing gap that if you’re trying to buy a house that your family can grow in, it’s going to cost you more than $300,000- $400,000, and a lot of people are going to have a hard time affording that, especially people who live here now, ” he says. “We need to bring in those jobs; we need to bring in office space for them.”
He also believes in recruiting more businesses to St. Petersburg. “Being a champion for St. Pete is something I’m looking forward to,” he says.
Bean’s website is www.justinbean.com
He now joins a crowded field of candidates in District 6. Corey Givens Jr., Maria Scruggs, Sharon Russ, Jim Jackson, John Johnson and Akile Cainion round out the roll call. Civil justice attorney Augie Ribeiro says he might join the field as well.