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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Kornell becomes first openly gay official in St. Petersburg. Incumbents sweep.



ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council will welcome one fresh face: Steve Kornell.

He earned more than enough votes to beat Angela Rouson in the race for District 5's seat Tuesday. Incumbents swept the city’s other four council races.

When he takes office Jan. 2, Kornell will become the first openly gay person to hold office on the St. Petersburg City Council. It’s a significant milestone in a city with a large gay community that has faced opposition to past pride displays under conservative leadership.

Kornell, a Pinellas County schools social worker, received 59.5 of the vote. Rouson, a former marketing professional and the wife of state Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, received 40.5 percent.

Kornell has an extensive background working with city recreation centers, running both Childs Park and Shore Acres. He wrote a grant that still brings in millions for teen programs. He hopes to help prevent crime and increase youth activities and jobs. He advocates using Penny for Pinellas money to put solar panels on city buildings.

Rouson and Kornell ran a race largely free of mudslinging. They had similar outlooks for the city and both played up their experience working with children. Rouson is a mother of five and community activist.

Here’s how the rest of the races played out:

District 2
In the council’s closest match, Jim Kennedy earned 55.7 percent, beating newcomer Stephen J. “Steve” Corsetti, who earned 44.3 percent.

Kennedy, 52, was appointed to the City Council when member John Bryan committed suicide in 2007. A lawyer active in the community, he had never held office before. On council, he became known for reading documents extensively and chairing two committees.

Corsetti, 65, is vice president of the Riviera Bay Civic Association and previously served as police chief in the small New Hampshire town of Danbury. He raised heavy campaign money and was backed by influential supporters. But it wasn’t enough.

District 4
Leslie Curran, a 12-year council veteran, captured 71.9 percent of the vote to beat writer and educator Pamella Settlegoode, who earned 28 percent.

Curran, 53, owns Interior Motives art gallery and design business and has led efforts to turn the 82-year-old Crislip Arcade on Central Avenue into an artists’ community. She launched Art in the Park at Williams Park and served on the Pier task force. Her track record, she said, proved itself.

Settlegoode, 60, is a fifth-generation St. Petersburg resident who decided to run after reading the newspaper and getting concerned about city issues. She led a grass-roots campaign for change with the help of two students.

District 6
Karl Nurse earned 73.8 percent of the vote to retain his council seat, beating Vel Thompson, who earned 26.2 percent.

Nurse, a community activist who owns a printing business, was appointed to District 6 last year, becoming the first white man to represent the area in decades. Nurse, 55, pushed for open meetings and records and using government stimulus money to hire police officers. Race, he said, wasn’t the overriding issue.

Thompson, a 51-year-old cosmetology student and former manager of the city’s Neighborhood Team, pushed for less waste and more neighborhood policing. She said representation by an African American such as herself would help the district take pride.

District 8
Incumbent Jeff Danner received 72.2 percent of the vote, beating Leonard Schmiege, who received 27.8 percent.

Danner, 49, was a carpenter and contractor who working on historic homes who served on government boards before working his way to City Council. He focused on transportation and boosting local business districts.

Schmiege, 40, got some attention when he brought a video camera to a council meeting and captured a brawl at City Hall, then posted it online. The self-employed technological fan and free speech advocate wanted more transparency in government.

Stephanie Hayes, Times Staff Writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:16pm]


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