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Ed Helm becomes 10th candidate for St. Petersburg mayor

ST. PETERSBURG — Citing a void in progressive leadership, Ed Helm tentatively tossed his name in the mayoral race Friday, four years after Mayor Rick Baker brushed him aside in a brutal loss.

Helm, who submitted campaign paperwork to City Hall, said he was exploring a potential bid for mayor.

"People who supported me before have asked me or said to me, 'I'd like to support you or I'd like to vote for you,' and that's what got me thinking," he said.

Baker won 70 percent of the vote in 2005, besting Helm by a margin of 13,203 votes.

Helm was a last minute addition in that race, joining in after it appeared Baker would run unopposed. Helm used the platform to rally for curbside recycling, a longtime priority.

"We should have had curbside recycling four years ago and we are a poorer community for not having it," he said Friday.

Helm said he would bow out of the race if fellow Democrats Kathleen Ford and Scott Wagman can persuade him they will represent progressive voters in the city.

"Whether or not I have real resources will be part of the consideration," he added.

He dismissed most of his Republican rivals: "I don't think Bill Foster or Larry Williams or Deveron Gibbons are a progressive voice in any way."

He homed in on Gibbons, who claimed during a public forum Thursday that Foster, Williams, Bennett and Ford had done little to curb crime during their stints as City Council members.

"When I talked about the increase in crime four years ago, (Gibbons) pooh-poohed and defended Mayor Baker," Helm said.

Cristina Silva can be reached at (727) 893-8846 or csilva@sptimes.com.

Fast facts

About the race

Ten candidates have filed paperwork to run for St. Petersburg mayor. They are Jamie Bennett, Paul Congemi, Kathleen Ford, Bill Foster, Deveron Gibbons, Ed Helm, Alex Haak, Sharon Russ, Scott Wagman and Larry Williams. The primary is Sept. 1. The general election is Nov. 3.

On the Web: Read more about the candidates and where they stand on the issues at tampabay.com/mayor.

Ed Helm becomes 10th candidate for St. Petersburg mayor 05/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 5:10pm]
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