RNC chairman lauds Bill Foster's win in Mayor's race
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recognized Mayor-elect Bill Foster's win last week.
"I would like to congratulate Bill Foster on his election to serve as mayor of St. Petersburg," Steele said in a press release. "St. Petersburg has also been fortunate to have Rick Baker serve with distinction for eight years and I have no doubt that Bill will build upon what Rick has already accomplished — a strong record of fiscal conservatism and transparency. Bill's victory is significant since President Obama carried the county in 2008 and has since dramatically increased the Democrat registration. As we approach the 2010 elections, I am confident we will see more Floridians elect leaders who believe in less taxes and less spending."
Foster is Republican. His rival in the race, Kathleen Ford, is a Democrat. The race was nonpartisan.
Ford thanks backers in concession speech
Kathleen Ford conceded the mayoral race to Bill Foster about 8 p.m. on election night.
"Well, first of all let me inform you all that I've called Mr. Bill Foster, and I congratulated him," said Ford, her family lined up behind her as she spoke to about 200 supporters at the Garden Club of St. Petersburg. "He is now our new mayor of St. Petersburg."
The crowd responded with some "awwws" and more "boos."
"Well that's okay, though. We know Bill, and Bill and I have gotten along just fine, contrary to his (campaign) pieces." The crowd chuckled at the jab.
"What I'm so very, very proud of is our campaign. I'm so proud of our campaign because we focused on the very important issues facing the city of St. Petersburg, and during our campaign we made a difference."
Then Ford thanked her union supporters, especially the city's firefighters union.
"Of course, none of us are going away," she said. "We're right here, and we are going to continue to keep an eye on our government to make sure that it's open, accessible, accountable and certainly affordable, and I know that I can count on you to help me make sure that we really are heading this ship in the right direction."
How much money did candidates raise?
Bill Foster raised $248,802 in his bid to be the city's next mayor, a figure that easily outpaces the previous record of $225,846 set by Mayor Rick Baker during the 2001 mayoral race.
To date, Foster has spent $214,042.72. In the final two weeks of fundraising, he raised $41,960.
Kathleen Ford raised $15,971 during the final two weeks, bringing her total to $82,459.76. Her campaign spent $61,093.14 overall.
Other fundraising totals:
In the District 2 City Council race, Jim Kennedy raised $5,277 and loaned himself $3,200 in the final days of fundraising. Overall, he raised a total of $29,167.24 and spent $28,716.01 in his successful election bid. Rival Steve Corsetti collected $1,495 during the final fundraising period and raised $9,000 total. He spent $8,301.07.
In the District 4 race, council member Leslie Curran raised $400. In total, she earned $10,175 and spent $3,129.75 in her successful re-election campaign. Pamella Settlegoode raised $595 during the final fundraising period. Overall, she collected $3,882 and spent $3,268.67.
In the District 5 race, Steve Kornell raised $15,280.75 in his final push. He raised $71,176.86 overall and spent $68,044.88. Angela Rouson raised $7,306 and loaned her campaign $1,800 in the final fundraising period. In all, she raised $48,741 and spent $47,756.21.
In the District 6 race, council member Karl Nurse gathered $17,995 in the final weeks of the campaign. He raised a total of $60,561.03 and spent $58,479.94. Rival Vel Thompson raised $915. In total, she raised $6,093 and spent $5,490.83.
In the District 8 race, council member Jeff Danner raised nothing in his final push. Overall, he collected $4,740 and spent $3,627.21. Consultant Leonard Schmiege raised $2,184.94. In total, he raised $3,716.94 and spent $629.
House candidate's fundraiser is Nov. 21
Former Pinellas County School Board member Mary Russell, a Democrat, is running for the state House 54 seat held by Republican Jim Frishe. She'll have a "Meet and Greet" fundraiser hosted by Iris Swarc, a real estate agent, and Judy Owen, a former high school classmate of Russell's, on Nov. 21 at the Crescent Beach Club on Sand Key.
New council member to hold town meetings
Leslie Waters, one of this city's newest council members, has scheduled two town meetings in December. The first is 10 to 11 a.m. Dec. 5 in the Community Room at the Seminole Bowling Center at Park Boulevard and Park Street. No reservations are needed. The second is 11 a.m. to noon Dec. 7 at Roskamp Auditorium, Freedom Square, 7800 Liberty Lane. Reservations are requested. Call (727) 398-0244.
Waters also is holding a canned goods drive during the two meetings. All contributions will be given to Seminole church food pantries.
Gayton won't seek fourth term in office
Ed Gayton Jr. announced Tuesday he will not run for re-election in March after serving three terms.
"I wanted to give all residents of District 2 some time to think about it," Gayton said at the end of the commission's workshop meeting.
Mayor Bob Minning said, "Wow." Commissioner Phil Collins, who sits beside Gayton, jokingly asked "Was it something I said?"
Gayton, a strong fiscal conservative, was first elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and 2008. He has lived in Treasure Island since 1973.
Two seats will be up for election in March — Gayton's seat and the District 4 seat now held by Alan Bildz, who has not said whether he will seek re-election.
Candidate qualification packets will be available from the city clerk in mid December. Candidates can file their qualification papers between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2.
Staff writers Cristina Silva, Anne Lindberg, Jamal Thalji and correspondent Sheila Mullane Estrada contributed to this report.