BARTOW – Candidates for Bartow City Commission Seat 4 participated in a Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce Candidate Forum March 5 at the Carver Recreation Center.
Gerald Jacob Cochran, Steve Githens and incumbent Trish Burin-Pfeiffer answered questions from moderator S.L Frisbee and some of those in attendance.
The municipal election is April 7. Bartow City Commissioner Leo E. Longwoth ran unopposed and won Seat 5 by default.
On the subject of what things were needed to encourage young people to live in Bartow, Pfeiffer said city staff have done a good job with “under the hood” infrastructure, adding that there has not been much investment in things “for the people.” Pfeiffer referenced the City of Winter Haven investing $25 million in the AdventHealth Fieldhouse, around a million on a new skate park and renovated MLK amphitheater, the tennis complex, and splash pad, arguing the projects created a vibrant atmosphere.
“It's aggravating that we don't have that,” Pfeiffer said.
Githens said young people need more affordable housing options. Cochran said young people may appreciate getting rid of the fire ants in Mary Holland Park instead of subsidizing the city golf course.
On term limits, Pfeiffer said the subject has come up a few times during her six years in office but that it never got traction.
“As long as I've got the energy and the support, I will keep doing it,” Pfeiffer said.
Githens said that Longworth has been on the commission for more than 25 years and that Longworth has universal respect to keep getting elected. Cochran said he has been trying to get elected for the past consecutive 28 years and is in favor of term limits to give others a chance to serve.
Multiple questions were asked about code enforcement. Cochran cited a personal example, saying the cars in his yard were not junk.
“You are never going to have a squeaky clean town,” Cochran said.
Pfeiffer said that there are only two code enforcement officers working for the city and that they are actively working to resolve code enforcement problems. Githens said he and fellow Rotary Club members have cleaned up a few properties over the years.