Michelle Tappouni: Why I'm Running for Council

February 8, 2011 57 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A native Floridian and the oldest of six siblings, Michelle was born in Gainesville and grew up in Jacksonville and Tampa. She returned to the First Coast in 2001, accepting a position with Breaking Ground Contracting Company, a Jacksonville based general contracting firm. She lived in Riverside until 2007 when she purchased a home in Springfield. Michelle was awarded a music scholarship from the University of Tampa and has continued her education throughout the years in business administration and construction. She recently graduated from the inaugural class of the Political Leadership Institute and is on the board of the ACE Mentor Program and the Springfield Area Merchants Business Association. She served as President of the Associated Builders and Contractors Women's Council during the past three years and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, The Urban Land Institute, Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce, NEFBA Commercial Council and the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council. She is past president of the Gulf Coast Chapter and National Board Member of the American Subcontractors Association. Besides her professional affiliations, Michelle's community interests include Blueprint for Prosperity, The Child Guidance Center, HabiJax, Angelworks, Pace Center for Girls, The Bridge, Springfield Animal Care & Rescue, Girl Scouts and various events promoting other worthwhile causes. Now she's running for City Council

“A great city is about more than 19 members of the city council and a mayor. It will take all of us to reach our goals.”

From childhood I have been told what a privilege it is to be a citizen of this country—to be allowed to participate in building a community that reflects the best and finest instincts of its people. As part of this privilege, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you directly about why I want to be your City Council representative for Group 5 At-Large.

In over 25 years of working in private industry and volunteering in my community, I have seen great things happen when good leadership combines with the experience and knowledge of committed individuals. This is a critical time in the life of our country and no less critical for our city. Right now, more than ever, we need this commitment. It is vital that we restore trust in our public servants, and I know that actions speak louder than words. That’s why Restoring Trust is one of the four pillars of my campaign. I’m passionate about the positive effect our representatives can have on our community; we need to explore new and innovative ways to bring people into the process, not alienate them. I would work with Council members and our Duval Delegation to reach out to communities through regular town hall meetings and other forms of communication. Each neighborhood is unique and needs to be treated as such. Having open dialogue, transparent processes and an effective ethics code will go far in re-establishing the community’s trust in their representatives.

Another of my four pillars as we come out of this recession is Jobs. In Jacksonville we have many opportunities that need to be approached by creating a synergy between the public and private sectors.

We are blessed with an active port, a thriving military community, commerce and manufacturing, eco- tourism, passionate entrepreneurs, as well as skilled employee markets from our local colleges and universities. Being able to act to revive active partnerships is critical to our economic recovery and our journey from a “good” city to a “great” city. As the daughter of entrepreneurs, I learned first-hand how important small business is to the economy and social network of the community. Government does not create e jobs they provide the environment for businesses to grow and succeed. Working in the contracting industry, I see how encouraging small business leads to a vibrant community, and also how government can interfere with that energy when they’re not informed about everyday realities. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and need to be encouraged to thrive and hire—especially now.

My third pillar is Safe Neighborhoods. Jacksonville is brimming with a renewed sense and energy of community, as it is in my neighborhood of Springfield. At the core of our possibilities are people and neighborhoods, where the everyday issues are safety, family and education. For the third year, violent crime is down and neighborhood participation is up. As a victim of crime, twice in the last six months, I can understand that these numbers do not mean as much if you are one of the families that have been struck by violence or crime. With the efforts of the Sheriff, JSO, JFRD, community associations and good neighbors, there has been an upswing of attention to safe neighborhoods, something I will continue to emphasize on the Council.

Building Community is my fourth pillar, and is an integral part of the other three. It’s about creating a synergy between the public and private sectors and instilling civic pride. Building community creates understanding and connections that promote safe neighborhoods, active participation in government and the quality of life we all seek. Efforts are being made by community stakeholders, neighbors and those creating partnerships with law enforcement through mentoring programs, education, prevention and leadership. These are just some of the ways public/private partnerships make Jacksonville a great place to live. The fly in the ointment goes back to restoring trust. Some would say, “I’ve heard it all before, but it doesn’t help me.” I found, through following the doings of government on a day to day basis, that there was a reason for that disappointment. A lack of cooperation and political jockeying has hindered the work of the people. It is impossible to hold the vision of our city in the hands of “US versus THEM.” We are all united in one thing—we want the best for our city and our families. We have become divided in the draining process of politics. I want to be a unifying voice on the Council that brings current business practices and the energy of possibilities to the forefront of our deliberations.

There is no substitute for a representative of the people being on the ground and available to her constituents, listening to the individual stories of encounters with their government—good and bad.

On the City Council, I would be attentive to the citizens who took their precious time to address the Council in person or by mail, phone or email. I will be aware daily that the citizens elected me to represent their best interests. How we view our economy, our ecology and the individual determines our progress to a great city. There are not so many black and white issues in front of us, but issues that require cooperation, attentive listening and conscious action. It’s a huge responsibility, and one I ask for because of my love for Jacksonville. I know that my experience and knowledge will be a great asset on the Council, along with my desire to serve as a hard-working, issue aware, sensible and compassionate representative. My candidacy does not represent business-as-usual. Difficult times call for us to put aside our differences and work together to do the people’s business. The first election is March 22, 2011 and all registered voters in the county, including the Beaches and Baldwin can vote in this very important race. I would consider it a privilege to serve you as your Jacksonville City Council Group 5 At-Large representative.

For more information including all of my community involvement and professional affiliations please visit www.votetappouni.com. My website will be updated regularly to address specific issues and concerns. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Thank you,
Michelle Tappouni