ST. PETERSBURG — The yard signs are out. Stump speeches are ready. Jabs have been tossed on the campaign trail.
It became official at 5 p.m. Monday — city election season is here.
Five mayoral candidates qualified by the deadline for the Aug. 27 primary, half as many as in 2009. The top two vote-getters in the nonpartisan primary will face off in the Nov. 5 general election.
No last-minute game changers filed paperwork Monday.
The major candidates — all City Hall insiders and well-versed in St. Petersburg politics — announced their campaign months ago. They have been knocking on doors for weeks.
Candidates seeking the city's top job, include Mayor Bill Foster, 50, a former City Council member and lawyer going for his second term; Rick Kriseman, 50, a former council member and former state lawmaker; Kathleen Ford, 55, a former council member and lawyer; homeless advocate Paul Congemi, 56; and Anthony Cates, 23, a salesman.
Ford is in the race for the third time. Congemi won 0.3 percent of the vote in 2009.
To qualify for the ballot, candidates must have lived in the city at least a year, form a fundraising committee, pay a nearly $1,600 state election fee and submit a petition of 1,000 registered voter signatures (or pay a $250 fee). The mayor's annual salary is $158,000.
Congemi and Cates claimed the $1,600 state assessment was an undue burden and didn't have to pay the fee.
Residents also will vote in four of the city's eight council seats. Three seats have races on the primary ballot.
District 4 candidates are: David McKalip, 47, a neurosurgeon; Darden Rice, 43, a community organizer; Carolyn Fries, 45, a technology entrepreneur; and Richard Eldridge, 51, a taxi driver.
The winner will replace Leslie Curran, who faces term limits.
District 8 candidates are: Amy Foster, 35, a program manager for a Seattle-based nonprofit; Robert Davis, 53, a library assistant; Alex Duensing, 39, a consultant; and Steve Galvin, 55, who records music for the toy industry.
The winner will replace Jeff Danner, who also faces term limits.
In the District 6 race, council chairman Karl Nurse, 58, a business owner, will face Sharon Russ, 52, a city activist, and Trevor Mallory, 41, who is self-employed.
One race will hit the ballot box in November.
In the District 2 race, council member Jim Kennedy, 56, a lawyer, will face activist Lorraine Margeson, 56, one leader of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg. The group worked to get a referendum on the August ballot so residents can decide the fate of the Lens.
Council members earn $38,000.
Mark Puente can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.