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Former St. Petersburg mayors weigh in on the candidates

While an endorsement from Mayor Rick Baker may be the one most coveted by St. Petersburg's 10 mayoral candidates, Baker's not the only mayor who might swing votes. We caught up with the city's six living former mayors to see whom they're supporting in the 2009 race.

David Fischer, 76

1991-2001

Which candidate are you supporting?

I'm like everybody else, I think. I'm undecided. There are a lot of contenders, legitimate contenders. The public's having a hard time separating them. I think it was a couple of months ago, (the St. Petersburg Times poll) said 61 percent of voters said they were undecided. I'd be interested in seeing what that number is today.

What are you looking for in a mayor?

I think leadership is part of it. As they debate the issues of the city, you've got to decide who can really lead this city.

Bob Ulrich, 75

1987-1991

Which candidate are you supporting?

I have someone. I had thought about doing a little press release, but at this point I haven't.

You can say it here.

(Thinks about it) I'd rather not dribble it out. I want to be effective for my candidate.

In the meantime, what should voters be watching out for?

It's incumbent on us voters to pay significant attention to the credentials and the backgrounds and the ideas of the candidates that are in contention. If you pick the wrong mayor, the wrong candidate, in a strong mayor type of government, you've done a whole lot more damage than you would have done in a weak mayor system.

Corinne Freeman, 82

1977-1985

Which candidate are you supporting?

I'm not supporting anyone right now.

Do you have any advice for the candidates?

They don't want my advice. I'm the last person in the world they want advice from.

How about issues? Any the next mayor needs to deal with?

I would love to see something happen with BayWalk. I'm very distressed about that. It's a very important part of the city and it needs to be protected. People need to be encouraged to go there. A lot of time, money and effort went into that and it needs to be part of the downtown growth.

Charles Schuh, 73

1975-1977

Which candidate are you supporting?

You know, there's only one person in the bunch that comes through and gives specific answers to questions. And there's one person that seems to be willing to ask the questions that need to be asked. She doesn't let up.

And when I say she, I'm sure you know who I'm talking about because there's only one she.

So you're supporting Kathleen Ford?

That's right.

Why do you say you think the other candidates are avoiding talking specifics?

I guess some of it is pleasure with what Baker has done. But folks, we're picking someone to manage 3,000 employees and the city for the next four years. We need to have to make sure we pick the most qualified person running.

Randy Wedding, 74

1973-1975

We've reported before that you're supporting Larry Williams. Tell us why.

Larry has spent the bulk of his adult life involving himself in this community. He was an excellent councilman. He understands how the city operates. If there's one candidate in the group who can affect a seamless transition with the Baker administration, Larry Williams is it.

He knows the workings of City Hall. He can walk in there on inauguration day and, before quitting time, get done a lot of good stuff.

Don Jones, 83

1967-1969

Which candidate are you supporting?

Well, I have publicly endorsed Larry Williams for the first primary. I think I know where I'm going if he doesn't make the runoff, which is likely, I'm afraid.

There's a couple I definitely don't want to see there. And there's a couple I think will do a fine job.

Who?

I'll keep that to myself.

What issue is catching your attention?

I'm interested in BayWalk and that situation. It's terribly important. BayWalk employed lots of lots of people and brought lots of dollars into the community. We've allowed it be destroyed by people who want to use it for things other than shopping and dining and entertainment, which is what it was built for.

Former St. Petersburg mayors weigh in on the candidates 08/11/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 8:29pm]
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