Plenty of chances to see Rick v. Rick debates this month in St. Pete
Not everyone got into the crowded Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church forum last week to see Mayor Rick Kriseman square off for the first time against former mayor Rick Baker.
Those left waiting on the sidewalk outside the Midtown church because no room was left will have plenty of chances this month to see Baker and Kriseman in action.
At least four candidate forums and debates have been scheduled for this month.
Although the primary is Aug. 29, ballots will be mailed on July 25. Each successive election cycle sees more ballots cast early by mail, making July a crucial month for messaging for both candidates.
Next week, the Downtown Neighborhood Association with the League of Women Voters is holding a forum at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront on Monday July 10. The event, in the hotel’s Grand Bay South Ballroom, will start at 6:30 p.m.
The first half-hour will be dedicated to the eight candidates vying to replace term-limited council member Karl Nurse in District 6. Around 7 p.m., Baker, Kriseman and five other candidates for the mayor’s office ---Paul Congemi, Ernisa Barnwell, Thereas “Momma Tee” Lassiter, Anthony Cates III and Jesse Nevel---will begin their segment.
On July 13, Rev. Clarence Williams’ church, Greater Mt. Zion AME, will host a mayoral candid ate forum at 7 p.m. That forum will be moderated by Trevor Pettiford of Bay News 9.
Williams has endorsed Kriseman, but he told the Tampa Bay Times last week that he holds both the mayor and Baker in high regard.
"I would sleep great at night with either of these men leading our city," said Williams, who in past elections backed Baker and doubts either candidate will win a majority of the vote on primary night.
Williams also weighed in on a topic that’s already surfaced on the campaign trail---top-level staff.
Kriseman is still on "a learning curve" in the job, Williams said, and both candidates have distinct approaches in hiring top managers at City Hall: "Kriseman's priority is loyalty, whereas Baker's priority is productivity."
The League of Women Voters will conduct a mayoral candidate forum at City Hall on July 18 at 6:30 p.m.
Finally, Bay News 9, St. Petersburg College and the Times will host a July 25 debate that will be televised starting at 7 p.m. That debate will be moderated by Adam Smith of the Times and Holly Gregory of Bay News 9.