Pinecrest elections are nothing new to Katie Abbott. In fact, the Pinecrest native took on her first election in the Village before it was even a Village; winning an eighth grade student council seat at Palmetto Junior High School (now Palmetto Middle School) and moving on to hold a leadership position every year after until her graduation from Palmetto Senior High School as Student Council President. Now, she’s looking to take on her largest role yet: City Council.
“It’s the next logical step,” says Abbott, of running for Seat 4 on the Pinecrest Village Council. “I really enjoy working with the community and I’ve come to know most of them through all of my various roles and activities.”
And she’s not exaggerating. Abbott has held leadership positions within the Village public schools for more than seven years, including two years as President of the PTSA at Palmetto Middle and two as PTA President at Pinecrest Elementary. Beyond schools, the former Scholastic Corporation project manager (she held positions in New York, Charlotte and Miami) is on year two of a seat on the Village Zoning Board (she was appointed by Mayor Joe Corradino); is co-captain of her Neighborhood Crime Watch; spent two years on the planning committee for Fashion in the Gardens; attends monthly Mayor’s Educational Advisory Committee Meetings; and is a member of Palmetto Middle School’s Educational Excellence School Advisory Council (EESAC). “Running for a seat on the council has definitely been in the back of my mind for a long time and the timing was perfect,” says Abbott of the open seat. “The stars aligned.”
In addition to her front row seat to Village improvement planning, Abbott says she has an inside track to almost all generational issues affecting the growth and future of the Village: her two children attend Pinecrest public schools and her senior parents still live in the Pinecrest home she grew up in. “There are so many issues facing the Village. Growth is coming and we have to be ready for it,” she says. In addition to transportation and traffic issues within Pinecrest, Abbott feels strongly about looking at growth in areas adjacent to the Village that will affect residents’ everyday lives, including surrounding residential neighborhoods and businesses on South Dixie Highway. “We need to look at alternative means of transportation; we need to look at being able to provide community events that promote personal growth,” she says, citing the Pinecrest People Mover as inspiration. “I can’t tell you how much that is used by middle school and high school students. For every student on there, you have a car off the street.” Abbott is also a fan of promoting walking and biking, and sees how change and evolution need to live in harmony with retaining Pinecrest’s Village charm. “There have to be safe routes in place in order for people to change their habits,” she says.
But her big picture thinking, she admits, always comes down to the details. And details are second nature to Abbott. “People don’t realize that PTAs have hundred-thousand dollar budgets,” she says of her time balancing her career and volunteer duties. “You’re managing the flow of money, the flow of people. You’re managing hundreds of volunteers, 30 committees as a time. You’re looking at how to improve student lives while also supporting the administration.” Abbott also cites the importance of remaining calm and effective in the face of challenges. “You have to have good, strong relationships,” she says of bringing together various groups within the community. “And I have spent a lot of time building those relationships. I really enjoy working for the community.”
To that end, Abbott has been preparing for her possible new role for months, looking closely at what the job entails and attending each council meeting as well as community events such as Inspire Pinecrest. “It’s an important job,” she says. “It’s infrastructure, growth, development… we’re looking at what Pinecrest will look like in five years, in ten years. It’s how we will grow.”
For more information, please visit abbottforpinecrest.com