Alex Duensing turned 40 on Tuesday. He celebrated by taking a day off from his campaign for City Council in St. Pete's District 8 race to hang out with his wife at the beach. After being downsized from his teaching position at St. Petersburg College last year, the upstate New York native has been running full time for the seat, being vacated by a term-limited Jeff Danner in November.
Duensing says he has a different approach to the issues than your average candidate. By that he means he doesn't have an answer to every problem, at least not an immediate one. So if you ask him what he thinks about Jabil Circuit possibly moving its new worldwide headquarters near Tropicana Field in exchange for $8 million in land acquisition, he says he needs to analyze the data before giving a proper response.
"I'm very sensitive to the needs of taxpayers," he stresses, adding that taxes are a big sacrifice that people make.
Well then, what about the proposed new pier, an issue that everyone on the ballot has a clear, decisive stance on. Right?
"If the people are going to vote for the Lens, I’m going to be the biggest Lens supporter that ever happened," he says. "If it's not what the people want, then neither do I."
He says it's tricky to answer such a question.
"I've been researching the thing for a long, long, long time and the facts are still muddy for me, so for me to say how do I really feel..." his voice trails off. "I don’t want people to confuse my personal opinions with how I will act."
If elected, Duensing says he realizes that there will be many issues that don't reach a broad consensus.
"I'm looking for fifty percent plus one, and I think we could do that."
He says a goal is to look for low cost solutions that will provide "high impact," like creating new and improved bike trails throughout the city. He says the bike paths on First Avenue North and First Avenue South are "scary."
A resident of Disston Heights, I asked Duensing about 34th Street, where drug-dealing and prostitution have taken place among some of the motels there. Duensing says it's important to realize that those motels house "a lot of every day people who don’t have good credit or who don’t have a lot of money. It’s a place for them to reside for a short time period of time."
"I will likely be the most innovative person that has ever sat in City Hall," he says, immodestly.
Duensing is running against Amy Foster, Steve Galvin and Robert J. Davis in the Aug. 27 primary.