Scott Wagman to Jamie Bennett: Stop lying
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman said one of his opponents, council member Jamie Bennett, is spreading lies about him.
Bennett has spread word that Wagman wants to turn the St. Petersburg Police Department over to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Wagman said that's just not true: "I have no intention of doing that."
Wagman said he thinks the Police Department should remain independent. But department officials could improve their relationship with the Sheriff's Office, he said, just as all city and county officials should communicate more.
Wagman said the finger pointing reeks of "desperation" and is "amateurish."
"It's disappointing, the level of, there is no other word for it, lying that is already going on," Wagman said.
Bennett defended his campaign, which is being run by controversial political insiders Peter Schorsch and Barry Edwards.
"I've heard various people say this over a period of time," Bennett said of Wagman's stance on the Sheriff's Office. "I don't know where it came from, so if it's wrong, I apologize."
Wagman, who has been quietly campaigning in recent weeks, took his own shot at Bennett by attacking the status quo. Voters want a fresh face in City Hall, he said.
"People are saying we need to get the cost of government under control and the people of the past are not going to do that," Wagman said.
As property tax revenue nearly tripled in recent years, governments weren't as prudent as they should have been, Wagman said.
"When the money was rolling in, not one of them said, 'Hey, wait a minute, it's going to rain someday,' " he said.
Bennett, the former City Council chairman, said the city did plan ahead, establishing fund balances to help build up its reserve.
"I don''t know what he is talking about," Bennett said. "We have been very prudent with our decisions."
Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer