St. Petersburg: Mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford names Anthony Weiner and Bob Filner when discussing her challengers
In her third attempt to become the St. Petersburg mayor, Kathleen Ford says Police Chief Chuck Harmon is ineffective, neighborhoods need cleaned up and Midtown residents don't feel safe at night.
Ford discussed her positions and campaign Thursday with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. Her challengers, Mayor Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman, met with the board earlier this week.
At one point in the meeting, Ford put Foster and Kriseman in a category with two politicians embroiled in controversies: New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
During a televised debate Tuesday, Ford asked Kriseman what he and Foster learned from an incident years ago involving a Krispy Kreme calendar featuring obese women that was circulated around City Council chambers. The incident forced council members to attend one-on-one lectures on appropriate workplace behavior.
On Thursday, Ford was asked to explain the importance of her question. Here is the exchange:
“Its character. Its character. Look at the San Diego mayor. Look at Anthony Weiner. It’s character,” Ford said.
"Are you likening Foster and Kriseman to Weiner and Filner?" the Times asked.
“It’s an issue of character,” Ford responded.
The Times asked if Ford was aware of Kriseman and Foster engaging in incidents like Weiner or Filner.
“No,” Ford replied.
"It's sad to see Ms. Ford desperately trying to tarnish my character because she knows she can't win this campaign on the issues that matter to St. Petersburg," he said in a statement. "I've been married to my wife Kerry for 20 years and we raised our two children, Jordan and Samuel, together. I'm proud of my record and, Ms. Ford, of all people, should be the last one to talk about character in politics."
Ford also spoke on other issues.
On police leadership: I think the police chase policy has resulted in more personal injuries and property damage. We obviously have a police chase policy that does not seem to be monitored in a way that some would hope. I’d like a police chief who is committed to community policing. We have incredibly dedicated men and women on the force. I just think it’s a lack of leadership at this time.
If elected, she was asked whether she would seek Harmon’s resignation: He’s on his way out in January 2014. (Ford further explained that Harmon must retire because he is enrolled in the deferred retirement plan. However, Harmon must retire by May 2015, the department said.)
On defining what makes her a leader: Well, captain of the track team, co-captain of the track team, drum major. There’s certain leadership positions that people hold throughout there lives. I think it’s also a part of collaboration. It’s being able to identify the issues and articulate them and get everybody on board. To put forward a program that everybody, the stakeholders and your leadership team is committed too. I think that is real important in going forward in the city.