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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Foster: One year in

17

January

ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Foster doesn't stray from his roots.

He lives in the Shore Acres home where he grew up. He's married to his high school sweetheart.

As a boy, he dreamed of running St. Petersburg, which his maternal great-grandparents helped settle in the early 1900s by opening a general store.

But while his journey to becoming the city's 39th mayor may not have been short, Foster, 47, finds himself at a destination far removed from the hometown of his youth.

Gone are the days when the coffers brimmed with property tax revenues and possibility. Foster governs the city of 250,000 in the era of subtraction, making decisions about what to do without.

One year into his administration, Foster says he doesn't plan to unveil any grand plan or develop a broad vision for the future. For him, now is not a time for big ideas.

"It's all about progress," Foster said. "But we still have an economy that, if we're not careful, can defeat a progressive vision."

His predecessor, Rick Baker, helped shape the downtown skyline and brought commerce to Midtown. He used tax breaks to secretly broker deals with corporations to create jobs.

Foster doesn't innovate, he tweaks. His best ideas, so far, are borrowed. He fixes what's already in place to make it better, cheaper, faster.

He wanted to be mayor more to preserve the city than to change it. Read the rest of Times reporter Michael Van Sickler's Sunday profile of Foster here

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[Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 4:55pm]

    

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