Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Kathleen Ford to run for St. Petersburg mayor

ST. PETERSBURG — Ten days after losing a lawsuit to save the Pier, Kathleen Ford will now try to use the inverted pyramid as part of her campaign for mayor.

With the Pier as a backdrop Monday, the former council member and lawyer said residents are angry about not being given a vote to save the Pier from the wrecking ball.

City Hall needs a leader who will represent all residents, she said.

"I think it's time for the sun to shine in City Hall," Ford, 55, said at a news conference at downtown's Demens Landing Park. "I'm running for mayor because I believe in responsive and responsible government."

She joins former lawmaker and former City Council member Rick Kriseman in a bid to unseat Mayor Bill Foster in the Aug. 27 primary.

This will be Ford's third bid for the city's top job.

She lost to Foster in 2009. The two had been locked in a close race until Foster pulled away in the end, capturing 53 percent of the vote.

In 2001, Ford lost more mightily to Rick Baker, garnering 43 percent of the vote.

Asked what would make her a winning candidate this year, Ford said: "I think folks have had an opportunity to evaluate the current government and see there is something lacking."

Ford said she'll work to improve police responsiveness, require faster fire inspections for businesses and eliminate red tape that impedes residents from receiving better services from City Hall.

Foster, 50, didn't return a call for comment.

Kriseman, also 50, said he isn't deterred: "Regardless who enters this race, my campaign will always be about one thing: Restoring leadership to City Hall and providing voters with a vision for the future that moves us forward."

With the campaign under way, Kriseman already has collected $51,000 in donations. Foster has collected $25,000. Ford said she isn't worried. She plans to run a grass roots campaign to gain support.

"The residents of St. Petersburg already know me," she said.

Ford might win support from residents who don't want the Pier demolished.

She sued the city in August after the City Council rejected an attempt by the group voteonthepier.com to get a Pier question on the ballot. The group had amassed more than 20,000 signatures in a months-long petition drive.

A Pinellas-Pasco judge ruled April 5 that the petition did not provide the basis to compel a charter amendment referendum. He also ruled that demolition of the Pier does not require a vote.

"They are not happy with the decision," Ford said.

The question of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays could also factor into the campaign.

The team no longer wants to play at Tropicana Field, but is bound by a user agreement to play there until 2027.

Kriseman said he supports a proposal by council member Charlie Gerdes to let the Rays examine stadium sites in Hillsborough County if the team pays a fee. Foster said the Rays are committed by contract to the Trop and has refused to let them look across the bay.

The mayor's position is similar to the one held by Ford in 2009.

She said Monday she would not support Gerdes' proposal because it would weaken the city's legal position if the team broke the agreement.

Plus, she said, taxpayers have too much invested in the team and Tropicana Field to let them leave.

"I think we have to be careful," Ford said. "We still have a lot of debt that isn't paid for."

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter.

Comments
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the Phillies...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman and the coac...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

TAMPA — The debate over whether "Rep" or "Dem" should be on the ballot alongside the name of candidates for sheriff or property appraiser is now in the hands of Hillsborough County voters.Hillsborough County commissioners voted 5-2 Wednesday to hold ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

TAMPA — Mortar & Pestle, a fledgling Seminole Heights eatery with a mom-and-pop pharmacy theme, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Seacoast Bank was listed as the creditor with the largest unsecured claim: $1.4 million.The restaurant...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Column: It’s time for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to process concealed weapons licenses

It is hard to believe that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs didn’t discover for a year that an employee could not log into an account needed to see results of background checks that examined, among other things, whether applicants f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Twenty-five years ago, I was a reporter at WTSP-TV, out in the field covering Tampa Bay’s Independence Day celebrations. I expected an easy assignment talking about families and fireworks. Then the newsroom called with an urgent message: I needed to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

TAMPA — The contractors arriving at the Brandon home thought they were meeting with a potential customer. They were wrong.In fact, the would-be clients were undercover detectives and the contractors, lacking a license to ply their trade, left the hom...
Updated: 5 hours ago
As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

He was a 12-year Miami resident originally from Trinidad, taken off a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by U.S. Border Patrol agents in January.She was a 60-something Jamaican national who had just met her granddaughter for the first time, w...
Updated: 6 hours ago