Experience and Tenacity
BEGINNINGS IN CITY COMMISSION
Initially, I became involved with the local government because of the Dollar General development at Cranberry and Price. I ran for and was elected to the City Commission in 2016. I was appointed as Vice Mayor (2019) and Mayor (2020) by my fellow commissioners. I am running for re-election because I love this city. I have enjoyed interacting with our citizens and I believe my work is not complete, especially during these difficult times. I have the experience and tenacity to continue working for the people.
I made three promises during my campaign in 2016. Those promises have become my core values as an elected official. I will continue to abide by these values into the future:
Click on the red key words above or scroll down to learn about how I have managed to stay true to these values as a member of the City Commission. Click here to learn about about things on the horizon for North Port, and click here to learn about the successful initiatives I brought to the dais.
MY PROMISE TO NORTH PORT
I WILL BE ACCOUNTABLE
My voting record stands on its own merits. Before each meeting, I do my homework and ask questions. The questions are not only for my benefit but for the citizens' benefit too. My most memorable votes include:
I voted against the largest increase in property taxes and assessments in over four years (September 2019). I felt that the increase was too much when coupled with the rate increase to water and sewer. I will continue exploring ways to cut wasteful spending and reduce the city’s budget.
I voted YES to institute the new policy requiring the North Port Police Department personnel to wear body cameras (2018).
I voted against the city’s contribution of $4.7M to bring the Atlanta Braves to North Port. I voted against this because we do not collect any property taxes on the facility. The contract had many unexplained blanks and it was stated with urgency, “if we don’t approve this today, the entire deal goes away”. In my personal life, I would never sign a contract with obvious blanks or submit to idle threats, and I certainly could not as an elected official (2017).
I voted YES for the North Port Aquatic Center, which offers a safe, family fun environment for all ages (2018).
I voted against the constant purchase of new or replacement vehicles. I agree some vehicles need to be replaced. However, the evidence showed me most replacements were premature.
I will continue to weigh all information, listen to all views on an issue and vote for what I believe it for the best for North Port's future.
I WILL BE RESPECTFUL
It is extremely important to maintain respect and gratitude towards each and every public servant that works alongside me, as well as the citizens that we serve.
I remain respectful when interacting with our citizens, my fellow commissioners, and staff.
I respect the citizens' and staff’s time, expertise, and opinions. Even when we disagreed. “We can agree to disagree and still get along”. I do not take things personally and remain professional.
I answer my emails and my phone. I follow through with citizen’s requests until a resolution was reached.
I WILL BE APPROACHABLE
As stated previously, the citizens are the lifeblood of what makes a city unique. I believe it is incredibly important for me to do a significant amount of outreach during my tenure, and will continue to prioritize this in my re-election:
Shortly after being elected, I started a Commissioner Debbie McDowell Facebook Page so I could communicate with the citizens. I have three mainstays on the page: “On the Agenda”; “Look What We Did”; and “Sneek Peek of the Week”. I would add other tidbits of importance to keep the community informed. Citizens used this page as a way to communicate with me too.
I held at least 25 town hall meetings with various HOA’s and civic organizations. At these events, I explained how North Port Government operates, the latest news around town, and answered all questions presented to me.
I hosted and facilitated a three-part interactive series, "North Port Government and YOU", where I taught the attendees how North Port Government works, the budget, and the city’s development process.
I met with so many amazing citizens. Some just to say hi, others had concerns that needed resolution. I look at every citizen interaction as an opportunity to get to know the needs of our community.
I also find interaction with staff to be extremely valuable. I have "rode along" with various departments to learn their needs, get their ideas, and understand what they do on a daily basis to benefit our citizens.
I continue to strive toward open communication with my citizens. Therefore, this website includes a column called Ask Debbie in which we can discuss the needs and visions for North Port.