This is one of seven 2014 Safety Harbor municipal election candidate profiles conducted by Safety Harbor Connect. The city election will take place on Tuesday, March 11. There is a candidate forum on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at City Hall.
Name: Carlos Diaz
Running for: Seat #4
Place of Birth: New Jersey
Lived in Safety Harbor since: 2002
Professional History: Spent 10 years playing professional baseball; received an accounting degree from Oklahoma State University and worked as an auditor for the firm Arthur Anderson; worked in the international shipping and logistics industries for 15 years before forming own business consulting firm, World Wide Transformation America, in 2009.
Elected Office History: None
Volunteer/Organizations: Coached at Safety Harbor Little League; volunteer for Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce; Citizens Academy.
Website: Elect Carlos Diaz.com
Five Questions Regarding Your Candidacy:
1. What made you decide to run for office?
I’ve always contemplated running for office. But I was always traveling, so it wouldn’t have been fair to run then…I want to have someone objective in there who is looking at the best interest of the city. I don’t want to see someone who has their own agenda on the commission. I want to challenge people and make things right. I want to know why people want to do certain things, and I take this as a challenge for myself.
2. What part of your personal or professional experiences make you believe you are suited to run for public office?
I’ve traveled a lot, around the country and all over the world, working with people in many different fields. I’ve opened offices in many different countries, hiring and training staff and management. I am very objective, and hands-on when it comes to important issues. I also have a financial background.
I think I will be valuable on the commission and bring a lot of new ideas. I say let’s peel back the banana a bit.
3. What do you believe are the biggest issues affecting the community today and where do you stand on them?
I’ve never seen a town go down with too much business. I don’t want to put skyscrapers downtown. I don’t want to destroy the character of the town. But you can’t just blanketly say, no, we don’t want that. If you have too many residences, the town will stay stagnant. You have to keep pushing forward. If you’re not, it’s going to die. The downtown is charming, but what is that?
For the Firmenich property, I don’t think it should be rezoned. I think it should remain as-is. It’s a sucker’s move to put apartments there. I’d like to see a tech company, medical offices or even a St. Petersburg College campus. We have to market ourselves and not let the county market us. There’s got to be people in the commission to be accountable for things, to make a consensus and say “this is what we’re going to do.” We need to let the region know Safety Harbor is willing to have an industry. We’re running out of the places in Pinellas County.
As for the waterfront park, I’m pro developing it, but it’s got to fit in. Put a nice store, a hot dog stand, a bait shop. I would like it to be kid-friendly and park-friendly.
4. What are your goals for the City and the Commission should you be elected?
There is a Master Plan for the City, but so far everything is about being reactive, there is no plan that they are going after. I’d like to see the commission be more active in initiating things instead of sitting back and waiting for issues to come to them.
We need to get a group of different factions to come together to come to a consensus. The people are what make the commission, not the buildings and the trees, and you have to maintain that.
We need to have a vision while we have choices. One day we’re not going to have a choice. All of this stuff about ‘charming’, it’s not good for the future. If we keep popping in homes, this will just become another part of Clearwater. It won’t be Safety Harbor anymore.
5. Any additional thoughts or comments?
There’s no strings attached with me. I’m very enthusiastic about getting people’s support. I love to test people. I might ask difficult questions, but I want the answers.
I’m invested in this community. I’ve got a house here, my kids go to school here. I’ve coached Little League, I’m a member of the Spa, I volunteer for the Chamber. The last five years since I started my business, I’ve been able to understand how the community works. I think you gotta live it.