District 6 candidates, including incumbent Gina Driscoll and challenger Mhariel Summers, debated recently at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club forum. District 2 incumbent Brandi Gabbard also participated despite the absence of her challenger, Kyle Hall.
The candidates, who, for the most part, provided similar platforms, differed when asked their thoughts on the city charter amendment, which will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot along with candidates for City Council and Mayor.
Incumbents sided with the status quo, while challengers preferred the new closed district proposal.
Summers argued the change could provide more opportunities for grassroots candidates, cutting out the high cost of campaigning citywide.
“There’s a lot of big money,” Summers said about local politics. “So, you can have an opponent who has a much weaker platform, a much weaker message, that potentially has the revenue to reach a higher number of people.”
Summers also insisted that if the vote was districtwide, she would take the election.
Driscoll, on the other hand, completely rejected the amendment, arguing it would further divide the city and the current citywide General Election format keeps Council members accountable to all city constituents.