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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Council member Wengay Newton endorses Scott Wagman



ST. PETERSBURG - City Council member Wengay Newton said political newcomer Scott Wagman is the best mayoral candidate to oversee City Hall.

Newton said Wagman won him over with his promise to revamp the police department and aggressively pursue drug houses.

"In my heart I feel he will really be the one to bring some change to the south side," Newton said. "Everyone who is running wants to keep things the same. He is the only one who wants to do something different."

What's more, Wagman is an outsider who is not indebted to St. Petersburg's political establishment, said Newton.

"He is just like me," Newton said. "He is not one of them."

Newton is the first sitting council member to publicly endorse one of the 11 mayoral candidates.

The Newton endorsement could come with some repercussions.

Newton, a frequent critic of the Baker administration and the City Council, is reviled by a handful of City Hall leaders who consider him unnecessarily confrontational.

"People who have a very strong interest in the status quo will not be happy," acknowledged Wagman.

But Newton, who represents a sizable African-American population, could help establish Wagman as a diverse candidate able to engage a wide swath of voters. Newton is also the only black City Council member.

"It will absolutely do well for me," said Wagman. "In for one, recognizing that there are African-American citizens out there that recognize competence over political experience and race. I see it as a major plus and I thank him for his endorsement."

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:57am]


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