Take-aways from the St. Pete council candidate forum
The seven candidates running in November's election for St. Petersburg City Counil weighed in on questions at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Friday. Some take-aways.
1. Gershom Faulkner picked up his criticism of incumbent Wengay Newton in the District 7 race. Faulkner has been criticized for lacking punch, but he repeatedly went after Newton for being the short end of 7-1 votes by the council. "My opponent has been in office for four years. He has a record to run on ... he has shown an inability to work with others," Faulkner said. Newton, who opened his remarks with a blessing and a birthday song for his wife, pointed to the new Dali museum and this week's announcement of the IRX biotech company moving to St. Pete to show he'll "continue to work for you."
2. It's not a driving issue at City Hall, but a question about each candidate's belief in humankind's role in global warming provided an interesting contrast. Charlie Gerdes, Councilman Steve Kornell, Brent Hatley, Faulkner and Newton said they did. Councilman Bill Dudley said he did but with "reservations" -- he doesn't believe humans are the only reason. Bob Kersteen, running against Gerdes, said: "I believe the jury's still out."
3. Kersteen seemed to be on the receiving end of a couple zingers imbedded in questions. Asked by Dave Zachem how he could be trusted if he reneged on a promise to back Larry Williams to support Rick Baker in the 2001 mayor's race, Kersteen deflected it: "I don't recall that." After Kersteen talked up how he would work full-time as a councilman -- Gerdes is an attorney -- another person questioned whether he was implying people with jobs aren't as good. "I'm not saying that. I'm just emphasing that I will be available full time," Kersteen replied.