St. Petersburg: Mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman talks about police, the marketing department and Bill Foster
When St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman speaks about his visions for improving the city, he points to cleaning up neighborhoods, recruiting more businesses and finding the best talent for City Hall.Kriseman spoke to the Tampa Bay Times editorial board Wednesday morning. He faced his two challengers, Mayor Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford, during a televised debate. The primary election is Aug. 27.
Kriseman also spoke on other issues.
On why Foster needs to go: Mayor Foster has been kind of a placeholder. He inherited the city when there was a lot of things still going on that Rick Baker put in place. Anything that is happening now was a change in the economic environment that would have happened if Bill was or wasn’t there. I don’t see any real focus on economic development.
On top staffers: I do think we need to bring in some fresh blood. We have a lot of upper-level administrators nearing retirement age, and I don’t see a real plan in place to replace them. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire within. If you hire from the outside, you need to bring them up to speed on institutional, knowledge.
On the police leadership: The police department isn’t well lead. Personally, I like Chuck Harmon. Nice guy. I know he’s getting ready to retire. I think there are issues within the department internally that I still hear about. There’s factions impacting morale. Individually, if you look at the men and women serving we have great people that are serving. They are not working together as a team. I don’t see that happening in the department.
I continue to hear talk about the internal factions and some of the mistrust. There are obvious issues with the chase policy...It seems to be more of a leadership issue....Just from the feedback I’ve gotten from all the doors I’ve knocked on, people don’t seem to feel like there is the same level of respect coming back to the community from the department that the department is asking the community to show them.
On what else needs immediate attention at City Hall: I think our marketing department has not been effective. I don’t think we’ve done a really good job selling our city, and that starts with the mayor. He supposed to be the head cheerleader. I think there our things we can do better.
On what Foster could have done to save the Sweetbay Supermarket in Midtown: You have to meet with community leaders immediately and make the people know there are some issues going on. You also have to decide, quite frankly, we talk about subsidies. This might have been one where initially the city might have to step in and do an initial investment with some capital if they thought it was important enough. That’s an important resource in that community. We worked really hard to get it, and it might have justified putting some city resources into help prop it up in the shorterm in order to build a longterm solution to make it more successfull.