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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Pete Mayor Foster's Pinellas Commission picks: Harris, Latvala



St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, a Republican, told the Bay Buzz Thursday that he's supporting Democrat Calvin Harris, and -- after initially demurring -- Republican Susan Latvala in their bids to stay on the Pinellas County Commission.

The Latvala support is a bit more surprising, despite the fact they're in the same party. Foster and Latvala have been on opposite sides over city-county issues such as annexation and charter powers. In fact, Foster -- who didn't take sides in Latvala's primary -- initially would only respond that "I haven't been asked" to back either candidate when we asked for his preference in Latvala's race against former Dunedin Mayor Bob Hackworth, a Democrat.

Then we apparently asked enough.

"I will just say this on a personal level as to who I support in that race, it is Susan. Any differences of opinion we may have had in the past, she’s a great advocate for Pinellas County," Foster said. "We’ve had differences of opinion and at times spirited debate but it’s never been personal. ... I consider her a friend and she certainly has the experience we need going forward. She had a different relationship with the previous mayor (Rick Baker)."

As for Hackworth?

"I don’t want this to be a campaign thing either way. I’ve got my reasons for supporting Susan. Bob and I have not had a conversation about supporting him," Foster said.

Harris, a commissioner since 1997, has always been supportive of St. Petersburg, said Foster, who considers himself a personal friend. Harris faces Norm Roche, who is running as a Republican without much rank-and-file support after previous runs as a Democrat failed.

"He knows that the issues we have to face in St. Pete have a county impact. Quite honestly, he’s been fun to work with," Foster said.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 3:42pm]


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