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Ex-council member Kathleen Ford joins St. Petersburg mayor's race

ST. PETERSBURG — Former City Council member Kathleen Ford formally announced her bid for mayor Friday.

"I'm running for mayor of St. Petersburg because I love this city," she told a crowd of more than 25 business owners, friends and neighborhood leaders gathered in front of City Hall.

Ford, a lawyer, served on the City Council for four years before running for mayor in 2001. She lost to Rick Baker.

Ford said her administration would be transparent and reflective of the community's diversity. She also said she would hire more police officers.

"Crime is an issue," Ford, 51, said. "No matter how you slice or dice it, you can't hide the bodies."

Ford is known as a fierce critic of Baker's who held city workers accountable as a council member. Her critics paint her as rude and unprofessional, while her supporters say she has pluck and honesty.

Most recently, she was an officer for the political action committee Preserve our Wallets and Waterfront, which rallied against the Tampa Bay Rays' downtown stadium plan. She cut ties with the group last month to run for mayor.

Meanwhile, it looks as if someone might have tried to pull a prank on Ford. An unknown man was spotted handing out fliers to the homeless in Williams Park minutes before Ford's news conference.

The flier promised free T-shirts, food and drinks for everyone and bus passes for the first 25 spectators at the candidate's speech at City Hall.

At least four homeless people showed up, including Carl Williams. He said he wasn't disappointed when he didn't get any freebies.

"I have a bus pass," he said.

Fast Facts

Election details

St. Petersburg will hold a Sept. 1 primary election, in which the mayor's chair and five council seats are up for grabs. The general election will be Nov. 3.

Mayoral candidates to date: Jamie Bennett, 56, a council member; Paul Congemi, 52, a former builder; Scott Wagman, 55, a real estate broker; Bill Foster, 45, a lawyer; Deveron Gibbons, 36, a business executive; Sharon Russ, 48, a minister; Kathleen Ford, 51, a lawyer.

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Ex-council member Kathleen Ford joins St. Petersburg mayor's race 02/13/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 11:46pm]
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