Meet Your Seat 2 Candidate: Kelly Barrette

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  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your age, how long you have lived in Delray, where you live, your profession, your family.
    I am 54, but have convinced myself that age is irrelevant.  My husband Jack and I have lived in the north beach neighborhood with our two terriers for five years. My parents and brother all live within walking distance of our house, but my sister and her husband stubbornly cling to the west coast – we’re working on them.
    I have been a small business owner for most of my life and thought I would start another arts-related business in Delray. But sometimes in life, you don’t get to choose your second act – it chooses you. I am currently the administrator of TakeBackBackDelrayBeach, a Facebook page I co-created to keep residents informed about unregulated sober homes, new development and local politics. I have worked closely with the Florida Coalition for Preservation and the Delray Beach Preservation Trust to ensure compatible development in our city.  I volunteer for several worthy local nonprofits, including The Achievement Centers for Families and Children, The Delray Beach Historical Society and the Sandoway Discovery Center, where I am a board member.
  2. Why are you running for office?
    We are at a cross-roads in Delray – and the March election will determine if we go forward in the same direction or change course. As a commissioner, I will be a force for positive change. I am running for office because I want Delray Beach to remain a safe, vibrant, family-friendly community.  Delray is experiencing major growing pains resulting in some big-city problems –a heroin epidemic, an increase in crime, a growing homeless population and traffic congestion – to name a few. We need thoughtful, independent city commissioners who are willing to address these problems head-on. I have been a citizen activist for five years and will continue to work on behalf of the residents as a commissioner. I will not accept contributions from developers, sober home operators or PAC money, to avoid any conflicts of interest.
  3. What are the top three issues you want to address in the city if elected?
    The top three issues I will address as a commissioner are:
    Finalizing the new ordinances for sober homes and ensuring rigorous enforcement. For several years now, I have collaborated with local media to expose the dark side of the recovery industry – this investigative coverage has help propel new legislation that will crack down on abuses in the industry. I will continue to push for the toughest possible sober home regulations in our city to protect those in recovery, and our neighborhoods.
    An overhaul of our city’s development approval process – making it more efficient while encouraging more community input. I have spent hundreds of hours attending commission and advisory board meetings; people all over the city ask me why the approval process for large developments can take years, and I see opportunities to limit extensions, to end exceptions to our regulations, and to remove politics from the process.
    Focus on improving our schools and physical conditions in all of our neighborhoods. We need to encourage more programs like “Delray Reads” and encourage local businesses to offer internships and mentoring programs. We need to make sure all neighborhoods are safe – sidewalks, streetlights and infrastructure repairs are a top priority.
  4. What do you see as Delray’s biggest challenge? What do you see as Delray’s biggest opportunity?
    Delray’s biggest challenge overall is to grow without sacrificing the soul of our city. We must attract compatible businesses that bring jobs but take care not to over commercialize our downtown. We need to sensitively develop the Northwest/Southwest but preserve our historic districts, historic homes and affordable housing for those communities. We cannot lose sight of what makes Delray special and we must maintain our spectacular beach, accessible downtown and diverse neighborhoods.
    Delray’s greatest opportunities lie in the people who live here. We have a wealth of knowledge and talent in our citizenry – we need to harness that creativity and brainpower and put it to work to find solutions to our city’s problems while creating a vision for the future.  I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy that is being poured into our city’s Comprehensive Plan Update and look forward to implementing the results.