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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida's first big city black mayor?



GibbonsSt. Petersburg's wide open mayoral election could be one of the best races to watch this year. Today Deveron Gibbons filed to run to succeed term-limited Rick Baker, and though it's a non-partisan race, Gibbons, 34, is someone Florida political junkies should keep an eye on. A onetime Ted Kennedy aide, Gibbons is a Republican who worked hard to help elect Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, and as an African-American is just the kind new face the GOP needs for longterm viability.

Gibbons is young and lacks elective office experience, but he shouldn't be underestimated in this race that lacks a clear frontrunner. He has a crack political team, including media consultant Adam Goodman and former Mitt Romney organizer Nick Hansen, and should be a potent money-raiser. Among the veteran Pinellas Republican activists/money men expected in his corner are AK Desai, Jim Holton and Dave Zachem.

Can anyone out there think of a black mayor of a major Florida city? Please correct us if we're forgetting someone, but I think Gibbons, if successful, would be the first. UPDATE: ....John Marks, of course, is mayor of Florida's eighth biggest city, Tallahassee. The 10 biggest cities are Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, St. Pete, Orlando, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee, Cape Coral, Port St. Lucie.

"Over the past decade, St. Petersburg has re-established itself as an economic, health, cultural, and neighborhood-friendly city, a real Florida success story. Yet the road ahead is full of challenges for our families and each one of us, challenges bred from a global recession that's already testing our confidence and economic well-being," Gibbons said in a statement. "As a third generation St. Pete native and businessman who's deeply involved in education and civic affairs , I am concerned about these challenges and believe we must address them in both public and private sectors with fresh resolve and renewed determination. I love this city and have the experience and integrity to both bring us together and lead us forward."

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:11pm]


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