Chatter about who will become the next police chief has gotten intense lately, with residents and community leaders weighing in on the issue. Former St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, right, recently offered his thoughts in a column for the Weekly Challenger.
Davis, a former police chief himself, said many were surprised when Assistant Chief Luke Williams, whom he called "the most qualified individual in the department," wasn't named as one of four finalists.
But Davis doesn't think that means Mayor Rick Kriseman should embrace the only hometown candidate left, assistant chief Melanie Bevan.
In fact, Davis wrote, Kriseman needs to hire from the outside to ensure the department can heal and move forward from current internal power struggles.
"The police chief in St. Petersburg occupies a very large stage and given the current state of affairs within the department, there is not a candidate in house capable of providing the stability and direction needed to 'right the ship' and move the department and ultimately the city forward. An internal candidate ensures instability and discord," he wrote.
Davis went on to say that he knows both Williams and Bevan (they both worked for him) and that it's up to the Kriseman administration now to show leadership.
The Mayor's Office has gotten a steady stream of input about the topic, and behind the scenes, many in the community are lobbying for Bevan. Someone has even created a Facebook support page, although Bevan said she didn't have anything to do with it. Bevan and the three outside chief candidates were slated to meet this week with residents, police officers and council members.
Kriseman is likely to make his choice in July.
Council member has parking idea
While the city prepares to undertake a study this summer to address current and potential downtown parking needs, council member Charlie Gerdes, right, floated a novel idea during a committee meeting last week. Why not open the Municipal Service Center parking garage, at Central Avenue and Third Street N, to the public after business hours?
That would provide more parking for patrons of Central Avenue and other nearby businesses, he said.
His idea seemed to please fellow council members Jim Kennedy and Darden Rice, who called the idea intriguing.
"Business owners have said if that MSC building could be open after 6, I think that would be a very good use of money," he said. "Several business owners have told me it would be huge if that would happen. I just want to plant a seed."
Roche just fine with war chest
Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche has raised a fraction of what his two challengers have amassed, but he says he isn't worried.
"I've got exactly what I've needed so far," Roche told Bay Buzz. A Republican seeking a second term, Roche, right, raised $12,255 in cash through the end of May. Compare that to the war chests of Republican Ed Hooper ($115,765) and Democrat Pat Gerard ($98,396). Hooper, of Clearwater, is a state House representative; Gerard is the mayor of Largo.
Roche said he just ordered a batch of campaign signs and will pay the qualifying fee this week. He is also about to ramp up a social media campaign and has a fundraiser tentatively set for next month at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, a Pinellas institution he first visited as a boy.
He said he doesn't have a fundraising goal in mind. He plans to do some radio spots and to send some mailers, but voters shouldn't expect a barrage to hit their mailboxes.
"There's a lot going on in the county, and I've got to keep my eye on the ball," he said. "I'm not about raising a bunch of money to get into a junk mail competition."
Hooper has a meet-and-greet event slated for June 23 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Angry Pepper Taphouse, 9366 Oakhurst Road, Seminole.
Gerard will be walking in the St. Pete Pride parade on June 28. Her supporters are meeting at the Metro Wellness Center, 3251 Third Ave. N, at 6:30 p.m.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected], (727) 893-8643 or on Twitter @cornandpotatoes. Tony Marrero can be reached at (727) 893-8779 or via Twitter @TMarreroTimes.