Kathleen Peters has been selected as the Bay Area Apartment Association Legislator of the Year.
Peters earned the distinction, the association said, because she sponsored and had passed a series of bills – all of which were signed into law – that will remake the landscape of substance abuse and mental health treatment across the state for years to come, and which attempt to supplant the criminal justice system as the de facto dumping ground for people who suffer from lack of treatment.
“We were supposed to create a community system of mental health care after we closed down all the asylums in the 60s and the 70s,” Peters said. “But we didn’t. Mental illness and addiction have gripped society because there is no system to do prevention and intervention other than the law enforcement and criminal justice system, which is totally overwhelmed.”
The new laws deal with required timeframes for competency and commitment hearings; allows physicians in all counties rather than ones of certain population size to provide a second opinion for treatment facility admission; and require all Florida counties to devise a plan for affected residents to enter the mental health or substance abuse treatment system through any door in the system.
Peters will receive the association’s recognition at its annual awards dinner on Dec. 9. State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, a Democrat from Hillsborough County, was the award recipient in 2015.
BAAA currently serves apartment community members totaling more than 130,000 units in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Highlands, Hernando, Pasco, Sumter and Citrus counties to provide efficient and consistent service to the renting public by providing owners, managers, and suppliers with information, education and training that will enhance their professional skills.
Peters, a Republican, is running for her third term in the HD 69 seat. She faces a challenge from Democrat Jennifer Webb in the Nov. 8 General Election.
HD 69 district includes Pinellas beach towns from Redington Shores south plus Gulfport, Kenneth City and the unincorporated Lealman area. First elected in 2012, Peters had previously served as mayor of South Pasadena and as a city commissioner before that. She was vice president of public policy for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce from 2009 until her election to the Legislature and is a past development director of the YMCA. She has a bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College in human development.