Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Shulman to Nurse: I'm not too young, council is too old



ST. PETERSBURG -- Josh Shulman might be new to politics, but he's no shrinking violet.

During his bid for Herb Polson's District 1 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council, the 35-year-old certified financial planner has proven to be well-versed in the details of the budgetary and public policy issues facing the city. In candidate forums, he's held his own against his two older competitors, who are better known in city political circles. Bob Kersteen, 74, served on the city council from 1995 to 2001. Charles Gerdes, 54, is an attorney and was Pinellas County fundraising chairman for Bill McBride's failed 2002 bid for governor. He lost in a 2006 race for the Florida House.

Shulman has continually stressed his age as a plus. He's 20 years younger than the eight member council's current average age of 55, and would be 10 years younger than its current youngest member in Steve Kornell. That would be a change for a city once mocked as "God's waiting room."

On the stump, Shulman often speaks about how the city needs to better plan for its future. He's the candidate for planning 30 years from now, he says, pointing out that at that point he'd still be younger than Kersteen. Ouch.

A day after Bay Buzz reported that council member Karl Nurse endorsed Gerdes and implied that Shulman was too inexperienced for the job, Shulman sent a note in reply:

I wanted to share some thoughts regarding Councilman Nurse’s endorsement of Charlie Gerdes.  While I have utmost respect for Mr. Nurse and his work on council, I take issue with his comment, “he’s not ready.”

The city of St. Petersburg, according to the 2010 census, breaks down in age as follows:
34 and under = 38% (18 – 34 voting age = 19%)
35 to 49 = 21%
50 to 64 = 22%
65+ = 16%
Yet the council demographics breakdown is as follows:
34 and under = 0%
35 to 49 = 29%
50 to 64 = 57%
65 + = 14%
I have taken the Honorable Herb Polson out of the above equation since he is not seeking re-election.  I would also like to point out that I am 35 which puts me in the middle category, but I would still be younger than other representatives by almost a decade.  Consider the following scenarios:
Josh Shulman wins
34 and under = 0% (12.5% if you allow me a 3 month grace period)
35 to 49 = 25%
50 to 64 = 50%
65+ = 12.5%
Charlie Gerdes wins
34 and under = 0%
35 to 49 = 25%
50 to 64 = 62.5%
65+ = 12.5%
Bob Kersteen wins
34 and under = 0%
35 to 49 = 25%
50 to 64 = 50%
65+ = 25%
Although age is not the only factor when choosing a candidate, I ask which scenario best represents a cross section of THE PEOPLE of St. Petersburg? 
When talking about younger people, we ask our younger citizens to do so much for our city.  We ask them to run into burning buildings, protect our streets, teach our youth, work in various trades, grow business, play sports, create pieces of art, and pay taxes.  Yet, when it comes time to represent a group that does so much for the city, it is said that “[we’re] not ready”.  Our city deserves a voice that while being mindful of the entire city is also sensitive to a segment of the population that goes consistently without representation. 
 I appreciate Mr. Nurse’s comments that I am smart and one day will get elected; for I agree with that statement, that day will be November 8th.
Josh Shulman
Candidate for City Council
UPDATE : Karl Nurse contacted Bay Buzz with this clarification: 
I did not mean Josh was not ready because of his age.  I meant Charlie Gerdes had many more years of community involvement which I believe prepares a person for public office.   


[Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2011 5:21pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours