ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman said Monday that if he's elected, the city's top liaison with the African-American community, Goliath Davis, likely will be out of a job.
Davis, the homegrown former city police chief, has been St. Petersburg's primary contact with the African-American neighborhoods in Midtown under Mayor Rick Baker and generally has been credited with calming and building relationships in the area.
Wagman said that after meeting with Davis recently, he's unsure if the position is needed.
"I'm not sure we can afford this kind of emissarial position right now," Wagman, 56, a first-time candidate, said during a meeting with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board.
Wagman is the first major candidate to suggest they'd replace Davis. At a candidate forum in May, Wagman called Davis a "legend in the community," but avoided questions about Davis' future in city government.
"The incoming mayor has the option of retaining current staff or making other arrangements," said Davis, who makes $152,736 as the city's deputy mayor for Midtown economic development. "I know I have something to add, and if a candidate wishes to retain me, I will work as diligently as I have worked for previous mayors. If they wish to make other decisions, I'm sure we'll talk about it."
Wagman said the city already has an economic development department, run by Dave Goodwin. It also has a senior economic development administrator in Rick Mussett. Both Goodwin and Mussett earn more than $100,000.
"I don't see a lot of use in having two economic development people in the city of St. Pete," Wagman said.
Wagman already said he would replace the city police Chuck Harmon.
On Monday, Wagman said he hoped Harmon would remain as chief for a transition period of about 30 days until a replacement could be hired.
Wagman said he was "90 percent sure" he would hire a new chief from outside the system, rather than promoting someone from within. He already said he has two potential candidates, though he did not name either.
A former paint company CEO and real estate investor, Wagman was the first of 10 candidates to appear before the Times' editorial board. Candidates are scheduled to meet with the editorial board during the next two weeks.