Kathleen Ford takes on Rays, St Pete Times
The night that Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster won the St. Pete mayoral primary I wrotethat Kathleen Ford won't win the election unless she demonstrates she's less combative and divisive than she was as a city council member. Tonight I saw the old Ford pop up at a West St. Petersburg debate at St. Pete College, and, well, she looked very much like someone poised to be elected the in-your-face, combative mayor of Florida's fourth largest city.
The most dramatic moment of the evening came when former city council member and state Rep. Rick Kriseman, the moderator, asked about a St. Petersburg Times editorial that negatively suggested Ford would dismantle city hall and fire top staffers. Krisman asked Ford if that's true.
Ford: "...Now is not the time for fun and games, and quite frankly we cannot afford half a billion for a new baseball stadium. We cannot afford to waste any more time renegotiating for a new baseball stadium. Folks, that's what this race is about - it's the money. Follow the money. The Rays give the Times a heck of a lot of ad revenue, and so the Times really wants that ad revenue. It's follow the money. So obviously you know where I stand on the stadium: I like the Trop, I like baseball, ten-year baseball ticket holders and we have suite interests. So we have supported our local baseball team. But in this day and age and at this time, particularly at this time with the financial issues we face, now is not the time to even talk about a new stadium."
Foster, whose campaign passes out baseball cards about keeping the team, was pretty flummoxed: "The difference between Mrs. Ford and I is that I want to ask you ultimately whether or not it's something you want to invest in. ... I want to give you, all of you - Rays fans, Rays haters, in between - a right to vote. I want you to vision to have a seat at the table. And I'm not going to make the decision, yea or nea, solely because I like our team. Ultimately I think the decision has to be yours and I'm willing to give you that dialog and that right to vote. Mrs. Ford isn't."
Adam Smith, Times Political Editor