Published On: Tue, Mar 14th, 2017

Emily Gentile Questionnaire

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Below is a questionnaire sent by the Tribune staff to sent to Emily Gentile and her answers.

  1. Name: Emily Gentile
  2. Personal: 65 years old resident of the Barrier Island, single, mother of two adult children Missy and Austen and grandmother to two Granddaughters born in Boca Raton, Grace and Emma.
  3. Education: SUNY Suffolk, Liberal Arts, Grumman Aerospace Data Systems- Information Technology
  4. Profession: Professional Business Consultant on Information Technology and Marketing for Fortune 500 corporations. I was responsible for over $500 million dollars of actual and projected revenue on my contracts and awarded over $30 million per year in vendor contracts.
  5. Political Background: Republican
  6. Public Service experience, community, and civic involvement: 
    • Elected Officer of the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton and Highland Beach
    • Chair of the City of Boca Raton Business Improvement District Steering Committee
    • Vice Chair of the City of Boca Raton Downtown Advisory Committee
    • City of Boca Raton Historical Preservation Board
    • Boca Raton Regional Hospital Collaborative Care Council
    • Boca Raton Regional Hospital-FAU-Charles E. Schmidt Medical School Residency Project
    • Marketing Director of the Yacht and Racquet Club of Boca Raton Artists Guild
    • Boca Raton Historical Society
    • Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce
    • Boca Raton Museum of Art
    • Alzheimer’s Advocacy Program
    • Florence Fuller Advisory Board
    • Past President & Lifetime Member of the Children’s Home Society
    • Advisor to the Children’s Miracle Network
    • United Way Ambassador
    • District IV Advisory Board
    • Yacht and Racquet Club of Boca Raton HOA
  1. Why is City Government important? 
    • City Government is the layer of government that most closely interacts with us and shapes our community.  They help to shape the physical contours of our city, what physical infrastructure our city needs, what recreational facilities the community wants and what is permitted to locate where.  They help determine what can and cannot be built in certain areas of the city to create a logical layout that protects property owners from having their rights compromised by what neighbors want to do.  They help steer the direction of the city to ensure good long-term planning that maintains the kind of lifestyle residents want and can afford as a community.  In that role they determine local taxes, collect them and make sure they are wisely spent to the betterment of the community without waste.  Most importantly they help to maintain community pride and social cohesion among residents, because at the end of the day, we’re all neighbors living together in a small area that want to get along and be able to rely on our fellow man in time of need.
  1. What is your vision for the city? 
    • My vision for Boca Raton is a comprehensive one of a multi-generational community where active retirees can grow old in the same community where their children can find good paying jobs and raise grandchildren close to their grandparents.  Where those grandchildren can attend first rate public schools and go to college locally if they chose.  Where residents of all ages can find lots of recreational options to suit all ages and tastes, from a public golf course, to tennis courts, to boat ramps to a public swimming pool, to the beach, to public parks across the city that offer every kind of athletic field and the leagues to organize them.  A city that offers a rich cultural life at our local theaters and amphitheaters, and small concert venues, to a rich spiritual life at our many houses of worship that all get along and work together on community service projects.  This isn’t just a silly dream of peace on earth, but an actual recipe for a healthy community capable of weathering change over time and funding long-term financial needs with a reliable tax base that doesn’t ebb and flow dramatically in a recession or if a single employer or institution runs into trouble.  This kind of community is the kind that attracts new employers because it’s where their employees want to live!  It’s where we all want to live.
  1. What are your plans for ongoing traffic in the city? 
    • While I was Chair of the Business Improvement District Steering Committee, I spent a lot of time focusing on long-term solutions to our traffic.  I worked with the city’s traffic engineers and the city’s outside consultant, Ty-Lin Consulting, to approved a plan that I personally presented to South Florida Transit Authority (SFRTA).  Steve Abrams credited me with persuading SFRTA to allocate $1.5 million dollars to the city for a formal study and the financial application for a new Tri-Rail Station on Military Trail complete with circulators, busses, shuttles and city trolleys. Because 80% of downtown workers do not live in the city and car ownership rates are plummeting among millennials who prefer public transportation and car-sharing options like Uber and Zipcar, there is a real opportunity to take more vehicles off of our streets if we start to build out the infrastructure now.
  1. What are your thoughts on Midtown project?
    • While Midtown is supposed to be a “Transportation Oriented Development,” (TOD), it’s not clear that the concept will reduce current levels of traffic in the area. Plans for Midtown have been circulating for a while but aren’t very well developed.  My general opinion is that the area cannot handle any additional traffic at this time.  If things like the additional lane being added on part of Glades, the new Spanish River on-ramp to I-95, and a Tri-Rail station near Boca Center make a substantial difference then we can revisit it later, but we can’t put the cart before the horse.
  1. What are your thoughts on compensation for elected officials?
    1. I filed to run for City Council before the citizens voted to increase the City Council salaries. It played no role in my considerations as I’m already retired and wasn’t looking for a job, only a way to better serve my community than the boards and charities I currently volunteer for.
  1. What do you think is best for the city: single member districts or an at-large election?
    • I think it would be incredibly divisive if City Council members no longer represented the whole city.  It risks putting parts of the city against each other because members wouldn’t care what other districts thought, whereas now, everyone on council needs some support from all over the city to get elected and it keeps the city more cohesive.
  1. What are your views on annexation?
    • I’m not actually seeking to annex any new unincorporated areas, but if communities want to be annexed, we should consider a dispassionate cost-benefit analysis.  It’s worth considering that just because they don’t get a vote or pay taxes to us, doesn’t mean they aren’t using our roads, services and amenities as they cross over invisible borders throughout the day.  We just need to be careful not to take on additional financial burdens.
  1. What are your thoughts on the developments in Downtown?
    • To many people look at downtown development through a narrow lense.  Is downtown traffic and parking unbearable now? Yes.  Was it better when it was a dead-zone full of vacancies and businesses that didn’t last more than a few seasons? No.  Our city leaders wisely realized they needed a downtown that didn’t close nightly at 5pm, or during the summer when the snowbirds left.  So in the 1990s, they embarked on an effort to bring residences downtown so that the business community could function year round, and not everyone would need to drive everywhere to enjoy the recreational amenities.  But the lengthy recession caused a backlog of development that lead to too many projects getting approved at once.  It takes time to figure out what’s working out and what problems need attention, and we didn’t take that time to fix our traffic and parking problems before multiple new buildings were built.  Now it’s time to look inward and work on improving quality of life in the downtown area, rather than more building.
  1. Is there anything the city council is doing wrong?
    • If so what would you do to fix it? My civic and community work has brought to my attention that the City Government and departments are not running as efficiently nor are they servicing the community in a timely fashion. Having multiple years as a professional business consultant to Fortune 500 clients, I have the experience of re-directing corporations to adopt a policy and culture of customer service. This will require our City leaders to embrace change and transform the current culture through the use of frame-work that communicates desired skills and behaviors identified by citizens, city leaders and staff. This promotes organizational buy-in as we begin to implement the desired changes to a service-oriented culture. In addition a new City campus will precipitate better communication and support, along with technology updates for city employees to utilize to support a “customer service first culture.”  Implementation of employee evaluations from the City Manager, City Attorney to all city employees, should be re-established to assist each and every employee with goal setting and accountability. As a council member I will champion establishing a “culture of customer service” employee evaluations and technology review.

 

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