Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg City Council candidate uses unusual campaign signs

A bird feeder dangles from one of Alex Duensing's campaign signs and, by the August primary, Mexican sunflowers could bloom out of another.

When it comes to lawn ornamentation, almost anything goes in Kenwood and Disston Heights. But for neighborhoods that have become a draw for artists and craftsmen, their local political signage is oddly conventional. Or it was before Duensing, 39, announced his candidacy for the District 8 City Council seat and began making yard signs out of other people's trash.

In a patch of grass on 49th Street N, a discarded wooden headboard has been stuck in the ground and painted with flamingos and cattails and the candidate's name. Not far away, a planter with a "Vote Duensing" sign sticking out of a red flower pot sits at a street corner, as though it's waiting for the bus.

But the candidate's greatest find is clearly the child-size plastic castle he discovered in an alley and wheeled home in his gardening wagon. He spray painted it bright yellow and, where a door should be, affixed a wooden plank urging voters to support his campaign.

"I think they make people happy," he said on a recent afternoon while painting a bird face onto a tree trunk.

The bird would be part of another soon-to-be displayed sign, though Duensing wasn't entirely sure how yet. But he'd noticed the wood lying around and thought it looked like a bird and might charm passers-by. At least he hoped it would.

"I'm like Mr. Rogers runs for City Council," he said of his campaign style. "I want people to know they're special and their opinions count."

Hoping to convey a similar message about people's untapped strength, Duensing climbed on his roof late last year and fought off the Mayan apocalypse on live television. Wearing a red tunic and twirling two poles, he told the cameras he was trying to save the world. Later, he explained that it was performance art. He has an MFA from Columbia University.

Most people applauded his creativity, he said. Others didn't get it.

In conversation, it's not immediately clear if Duensing wants to be on the City Council or if he's trying to inject a bit of whimsy into representative democracy. But he's serious about getting people's attention and there are concrete issues — the fate of the city's pier, bike lanes, and community policing — on which he has definite opinions.

"I just want to be the local helper guy," he said. "I intend to win."

Duensing filed to run in January, but the field has widened since he entered the race, and now includes four other candidates. One of them — Amy Foster — currently has signs on display (hers are purple with a green swoosh) and another candidate, Steve Galvin, has ordered signs of the red, white and blue variety. "They're a necessary evil but I'm not a big fan of them," Foster said of her traditional corrugated plastic signs. "They're good for name recognition."

On this Duensing would seem to agree. He's ordering a few of those, too.

No one has stuck in the ground anything quite like his signs, of which there are about a dozen. But he has plans for many more, including dioramas and carnival cut-outs for people to put their faces in.

Local artists have made some of the signs, and for lettering, the candidate has turned to a business called Silly Signz. But others he's made himself, working mainly out of his neighbor's back yard.

"I really do hope in the future more politicians do this," he said. "It shows consideration to the people passing by. Yes, you have the right to put signs out there, but people have to see them."

Contact Anna M. Phillips at or (727) 893-8779.

St. Petersburg City Council candidate uses unusual campaign signs 05/29/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 11, 2013 2:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. SPC's Bill Law leaves with pride for the faculty, concern for students — and a story about hotdogs


    ST. PETERSBURG — The local community college had already made a name for itself when William Law Jr. first arrived on campus in the early 1980s as a vice president. Still, the school, then named St. Petersburg Junior College, was just a shadow of the sprawling state college it would later become.

    Bill Law, outgoing St. Petersburg College president, said he is proud of the college cultivating stronger relationships with the community.
  2. Forecast: Pattern of hot, humid air and inland, late-day showers continues across bay area


    Storms again will pop up midday around Tampa Bay, but are forecast to mostly stick inland.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day. [WTSP]
  3. UCF suspends fraternity amid sex assault and hazing claims (w/video)


    ORLANDO — A University of Central Florida fraternity has been suspended while the school investigates allegations of sexual assault and hazing.

  4. Florida beats LSU, wins first College World Series title


    OMAHA, Neb. — Florida scored four runs in the eighth inning to pull away from LSU, and the Gators beat their SEC rival 6-1 Tuesday night to complete a two-game sweep in the College World Series finals for their first national title in baseball.

    UF’s Nelson Maldonado, left, and Deacon Liput high-five after a run scores.
  5. One killed, five injured in crash on Park Boulevard N in Pinellas Park


    Westbound lanes on Park Boulevard N have reopened at 62nd Way N in Pinellas Park following a fatal crash late Tuesday night.