Sharon Russ drops out, backs Bill Foster for mayor
ST. PETERSBURG -- Mayoral candidate Sharon Russ said she is dropping out of the race and will throw her support behind fellow Republican Bill Foster.
"I entered this race to bring to the forefront major issues affecting our city such as crime, gangs, homelessness and joblessness. I have been successful in bringing these issues front and center," she said, "so I think I have successfully done what I needed to do.
"I didn't drop out because I couldn't qualify or anything like that," she added.
Russ urged her supporters to get behind Foster, a former City Council member.
"Bill Foster will really bring this city together. I just think he is the best candidate at this time," she said.
Russ was a quiet presence in a crowded mayoral race. She avoided public forums and raised no cash. In a field of 11 candidates, her chances of winning seemed impossible, and it's unclear whether her endorsement of Foster will help him at all.
Still, she was the only black woman in the race. And as a low-income, single mother, her candidacy could have inspired others traditionally unmoved by the political process to get involved.
Russ' departure brings the number of mayoral candidates to 10. For more about the mayor's race, go to www.tampabay.com/mayor.
Cristina Silva, Times staff writer