Meet Carl Folkman, NPA candidate for Pinellas County Commission

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Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers managed to fight off six challengers in a crowded GOP primary for the north Pinellas District 4 County Commission seat. Now he faces three more challengers.

Carl Folkman is an NPA, but with some conservative talking points.

His Facebook page doesn’t say much. He’s “serving the people, not the party,” but it also announces in the very brief “About Me” section that he supports the group No Tax for Tracks.

That means Folkman opposes the transit referendum that will be on the November 4 ballot that would increase sales tax Pinellas by one penny and pump an additional $100 million into the PSTA budget. It would fund increased bus service, bus rapid transit and passenger rail.

Without the increased revenue stream that will replace the portion of homeowner’s property taxes currently funding public transportation, the PSTA is expected to become insolvent by 2017.

“Sales tax is not the answer,” Folkman said.

He points to the regressive tax argument, that although the property tax savings for homeowners is nice for them, this referendum, if approved, would place a new tax burden on people who don’t own homes.

But despite his personal objections to the Greenlight Pinellas plan, Folkman calls it a non-issue.

“It’s something people will vote for and if it goes through, it goes through.”

Polls commissioned by Saintpetersblog have shown ebb and flow of support for the transit plan, but have consistently showed at least a narrow lead for the Greenlight camp. Folkman claims the polls he’s looking at show a 70% disapproval rating.

Folkman’s biggest priority though is reviving the county’s veterans services. In 2012 during deep spending cuts, the county axed the department’s budget. He wants to see that funding restored and for things to go back to the way they were.

“I have sat with people that come back from the sandbox wars and they don’t know how to fill out these forms or get some of the aid,” Folkman said.

The county has already taken steps under the leadership of new county administrator Mark Woodard to improve the department. They’re hiring two full time Veterans Services Officers and an administrative staffer to cut backlog.

On the county’s EMS policy, Folkman wants to see the private ambulance company phased out and leave patient transport to fire departments.

“It’s an outside company. We’re outsourcing. That’s what we ‘re doing. I also think we can consolidate some of the upper management.”

Folkman also wants to see continuity in pay for firefighters, but that’s something he says will take time to sort out.

Of the two NPA candidates running against Eggers, he has the most fundraising power.

Folkman pulled in $10,550 and has about $6,000 left in the bank. While Marcus Harrison barely brought in enough money to pay his qualifying fee and that came from a $4,000 loan from himself. The Democrat in the race, Mark Weinkrants has a little more than $15,000 starting off the general election trail. Eggers has about $16,000.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email [email protected]