PBA explains its endorsements in St. Petersburg election
ST. PETERSBURG- The Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association union interviewed most of the candidates for public office before it announced its endorsements, president Mark Marland said.
The candidates also were asked to fill out a 10-question survey.
In the mayoral race, the union endorsed Bill Foster. Foster helped the union get Tasers and take home cars as a council member, Marland said. Foster's promise to "sweat the small stuff," reroute extra city dollars to the police department, attend staff meetings and loosen the city's chase policy so police cruisers can pursue suspects also helped his case, Marland said.
"We are not looking to chase everyone," said Marland. "We are looking to have the flexibility to assess risk versus the reward."
The union didn't interview Jamie Bennett. Bennett told the organization he didn't receive their interview request, Marland said. Paul Congemi declined to participate. Late entrants Ed Helm, Richard Eldridge and John Warren were not offered interviews.
In the City Council races, City Council member Jeff Danner, who represents District 8, did not respond to a request for an interview. Nor did student Derrick Frohne, a candidate in the District 6 race.
In the District 2 race, the union choose Stephen Corsetti, a former police chief, over City Council member Jim Kennedy. Corsetti also supported tweaking the city's chase policy.
"He understands to help with morale, you have to involve the troops," Marland said.
Corsetti also supported neighborhood public safety programs.
In the District 5 race, retired police officer Joe Smith got the endorsement. He also advocated for a changed chase policy and more neighborhood programs.
Corsetti's and Smith's law enforcement backgrounds helped their cause, Marland said.
"There is no doubt, because (Corsetti) has walked in your shoes," Marland said. "Joe Smith even more, because he worked in our department. It was one of those where you didn't have to explain much to him. He already knew."
In District 6, the union choose City Council member Karl Nurse. He also supported a new chase policy. Nurse's plan to seek grants for new police officers and equipment helped win over the union. Nurse also called on bringing in outside organizations such as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"He has been very supportive of us while he has been on City Council," Marland added.
Marland, however, said the union wasn't too worried about the candidates they did not endorse.
"There is really no one out there who is a disaster," Marland said.
The union will announce its endorsements in the District 4 and District 8 race soon.
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer