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Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman hires official to oversee Midtown

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman has honored his pledge to hire a high-ranking administrator to oversee economic development for the struggling Midtown area.

Kriseman announced Tuesday that he picked Nikki Gaskin-­Capehart, 40, to serve as his director of urban affairs. The St. Petersburg native will work to develop an economic agenda for Midtown, which includes some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city.

Additional duties will include being a liaison to neighborhoods and small businesses in Midtown, Kriseman said in a statement.

"She is a natural problem­ solver with extensive experience assisting the residents and small business owners of south St. Petersburg," Kriseman said.

At this point, though, exactly how she will go about solving those problems remains undefined. In response to questions about her new job, Gaskin-Capehart said that's something Kriseman and his transition team are still working on.

Gaskin-­Capehart is a Gibbs High School graduate who served in the student government there. She studied at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee before transferring back to graduate from the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus with a degree in communications. For the past year, she has worked as director of communications for the Pinellas County Urban League. From 2007 to 2012, she was deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. She also is part of Kriseman's transition team.

She and her husband, a Pinellas sheriff's detention deputy, live in St. Petersburg and have one child.

"I am excited to serve my hometown and work with our new mayor, deputy mayor and community leaders to address many of the challenges facing the neighborhoods that I grew up in," Gaskin-­Capehart said in a statement.

During the recent mayoral campaign, many black residents felt that Mayor Bill Foster didn't do enough to help the black neighborhoods. Kriseman vowed to fill the post focusing exclusively on Midtown development that was once held by Goliath Davis, a former deputy mayor and police chief. Foster fired Davis in 2011.

Times staff writer Craig Pittman contributed to this story. Contact Mark Puente at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @ markpuente.

Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman hires official to oversee Midtown 12/03/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 11:53pm]
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