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Know Your Candidates: St. Petersburg City Council, District 4

St. Petersburg City Council | District 4

Carolyn Fries and Darden Rice are vying to succeed Leslie Curran on the City Council. Fries, an entrepreneur and former neighborhood association president, said her experience makes her the best candidate. But Rice, a longtime community organizer, says Fries cannot match her own track record of local involvement on issues such as the environment, health care and transportation.

Curtis Krueger, Times staff writer

Carolyn Fries, 46

Technology entrepreneur

Darden Rice, 43

Communications consultant

Fries grew up in Indiana, has a mechanical engineering degree from Purdue University, and has lived in Pinellas County for 23 years. She's a past president of the Crescent Lake Neighborhood and was a PTSA leader at John Hopkins Middle School. She has founded or helped found several local technology companies. This is her first bid for public office. Experience Rice has lived in St. Petersburg for nearly 20 years and is a graduate of Eckerd College. She is the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of St. Petersburg, and has been active as chairwoman of the PSTA legislative committee. She has worked for the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network. Rice previously ran for City Council and County Commission.
"My background and experience," she said, noting her engineering expertise and her work helping to found local technology companies. "I understand the industries that we're targeting here to create high-wage jobs." She also has lived in District 4 for 23 years, and is raising a family there.Why should voters pick you over your opponent?With her record of public service on environmental, health care and local governmental matters, "I'm simply just better prepared and have a stronger background to step into City Council." She adds: "I'm the most knowledgeable candidate on transportation." In addition to public service, she also is a landlord who rents out houses.
"I largely support what the 828 committee came up with," she said, referring to a city advisory committee. This time, it should be made clear that when architects prepare a design for a new pier, it's a starting point that can be modified, not a final draft. What should be done about the Pier?"City Hall has got to engage the public on this issue in a different way … and be transparent and inclusive and do a better job than what we've done before." She said the city got away from recommendations of the original Pier task force, which led to later problems.
"It's really hard for me to answer that question," because she has not been involved with negotiations with the Rays. However, she notes that she can't get out of her two-year cellphone contract without a penalty, "and that's for a silly cellphone. Why should a Major League Baseball team be able to get out of a contract without paying some sort of penalty?" Should the city amend its contract with the Tampa Bay Rays to allow the team to look for new stadium sites across the bay?"No. I think that we have a contact and that we need to be careful not to weaken our position." She adds that "If they want to buy out their contact and go, then they need to pay the city every dime of what they owe." She is intrigued by a proposal that would let the Rays look elsewhere at some cost, but adds "I would approach it with a great deal of skepticism."
No. There's too many variations in yellow-light timing and other factors for it to be fair. If people will just slow down for the yellow lights, "the problem will resolve itself."Do you support red-light cameras?No. Says the project has become more of a revenue-generating plan than a safety plan. Plus, she says the cameras are error-prone. It would be better to "engage the citizenry" in traffic safety issues.
The idea of investing in a world-class transportation system is certainly intriguing and exciting and "I am open to the possibility." But she wants several questions answered before supporting it. Such as: Can a rail route connect Tampa International Airport and downtown St. Petersburg in Phase 1?Will you support the 1-cent county sales tax increase for mass transit in 2014? How about light rail, specifically?Strongly supports mass transit, which "is critical to our economic vitality." She does not "inherently favor a sales tax," but with limited other options, supports it. Residents should have input in the route, which might follow I-275, but would ideally go to other downtown St. Petersburg locations also.
Fries had raised $15,337 as of Sept. 27, including a $250 contribution from former Mayor Rick Baker.FundraisingRice had raised $99,750 as of Sept. 27, including $75 from Republican County Commissioner John Morroni.
Fries and her husband, David, live in Crescent Lake and have four children.PersonalRice has a partner, Dr. Julie Kessel, and is moving into a house in Woodlawn.
Website: Email: Twitter: @carolynfriesfl. Facebook: Search Carolyn Fries for St. Petersburg City Council, District 4 .website, email, Facebook, TwitterWebsite: Email: Twitter: @dardenrice. Facebook: Search Darden Rice for St. Pete City Council.

About the job: The council member from District 4 represents a swath of central and north St. Petersburg, with neighborhoods including Crescent Lake, Euclid Heights, Euclid-St. Paul's and Meadowlawn. Council members serve four-year terms and are paid $38,000 a year.

Know Your Candidates: St. Petersburg City Council, District 4 10/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 4:52pm]
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