Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

Clean slate? Reelection gives Kriseman fresh start with council

ST. PETERSBURG ó Now that Mayor Rick Kriseman has prevailed after a bruising election, City Council members say they hope for the same thing in his second term: a clean slate.

Council chair Darden Rice said it. So did Charlie Gerdes. Both are stalwart Kriseman allies, but each acknowledged that Krisemanís relationship with other council members hasnít always been a smooth one.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Rick vs. Rick: St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman completes comeback

During the recent mayoral election, tensions often spiked between the mayorís office and members, especially those who supported Krisemanís opponent, former Mayor Rick Baker.

Those bumps, however, came before the mayorís victory Tuesday night, winning 51.6 percent of the vote to earn another four-year term.

"Thereís an opportunity to (reset) the relationship," Rice said.

The mayor wasnít available for comment Wednesday. His spokesman, Ben Kirby, said Kriseman looks forward to working with City Council, which saw two new members elected Tuesday. Gina Driscoll and Brandi Gabbard will take the oath of office in January.

"We have two new council members," Rice said, "and thatís a blank slate opportunity to build effective allies."

The personal styles of Driscoll and Gabbard should mesh well with their colleagues and the mayorís office, said council member Karl Nurse, who is leaving office in January due to term limits. Driscoll will replace him.

Driscoll supported Krisemanís re-election bid so they should get off on the right foot, Nurse said. Gabbard didnít endorse anyone for mayor, but Nurse thinks that wonít hamper her dealings with the mayor.

"Sheís got very strong people skills," Nurse said. "I would expect she would be good at finding common ground with the mayor."

Neither Driscoll nor Gabbard returned requests for comment. Kriseman knows both new council members, Kirby said, and has a positive impression of them.

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2: Brandi Gabbard defeats Barclay Harless

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4: Darden Rice cruises to re-election victory

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 6: Gina Driscoll wins council seat

Gabbard will replace Jim Kennedy, who is also leaving because of term limits. Kennedy has frequently clashed with Kriseman and endorsed Baker. Kennedyís experience is also a cautionary tale for council members: He bucked Krisemanís plan to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look outside the city for a new ballpark. Kennedy ended up losing a committee seat and had his access to city staff curtailed.

Council members Steve Kornell and Ed Montanari have also been frequent thorns in Krisemanís side. But Nurse believes bad blood only exists between Kornell and the mayor.

Kriseman didnít endorse Kornell, a fellow Democrat, for reelection in 2015. Kornell stayed neutral in the mayorís race but publicly questioned the administrationís failure to fully inform the public about 15.5 million gallons of sewage that was injected into the aquifer after Hurricane Irma. Kornell took to Facebook to complain about it on Oct. 19, roiling the mayorís race just weeks before the election.

Montanari, the councilís only Republican, has philosophical differences with Kriseman. But Nurse said their relationship appears to be cordial. Neither Kornell or Montanari returned requests for comment.

Does Kennedy see the mayorís strained relationships improving in a second term?

"I guess thereís always opportunity," he said. "I donít see any indication of a change."

Nurse has also been critical of the way the mayor has treated council members in the past, but credits Kriseman with stepping up his diplomacy in recent years.

"Kriseman will continue to get better at the process," Nurse said. "Itís really about making sure itís more of a team sport and that people get to be involved in things early on and feel that their voice is heard."

The strain between Kriseman and council members started showing after the mayorís first attempt to broker a Rays deal failed in 2014. Then came more speed bumps: curbside recycling and fallout over the first sewage spills in 2015.

Lisa Wheeler-Bowman said things improved by the time she joined the council in 2016. That year, the council blessed the mayorís deal with the Rays.

"Itís with some council members that the relationship is strained, but Iíve never had an issue," said Wheeler-Bowman, another strong Kriseman ally. "If I call with an issue they jump right on it."

Said Gerdes: "A fresh start is a good opportunity for everyone."

Contact Charlie Frago at [email protected] or (727)893-8459. [email protected]

Comments
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Focused on Cubaís future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

Focused on Cubaís future, Rep. Castor skips meeting with Raul Castro

TAMPA ó One highlight of a congressional delegationís visit to Cuba this week was an impromptu meeting with President Raul Castro.But not for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.The Tampa Democrat joined five other Democrats on the trip, in part to investigate th...
Published: 02/21/18
Melania Trumpís parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on Ďchain migrationí

Melania Trumpís parents are legal permanent residents, raising questions on Ďchain migrationí

The parents of first lady Melania Trump have become legal permanent residents of the United States and are close to obtaining their citizenship, according to people familiar with their status, but their attorney declined to say how or when the couple...
Published: 02/21/18
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governorís race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governorís race

Weíll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Published: 02/21/18
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ĎI care about this community ó I will scream that from the raftersí

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ĎI care about this community ó I will scream that from the raftersí

SPRING HILL ó A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/21/18