ST. PETERSBURG — A flurry of last-minute filings Monday guaranteed that each of the three City Council members seeking re-election this year will face opposition, including one match-up that pits teacher against pupil.
Brent Hatley, the producer of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem's morning radio show on WHPT-FM (the Bone 102.5), is challenging Bill Dudley, his former high school driving instructor.
For Dudley, who until late Monday didn't know he faced opposition, Hatley's sudden entry in the District 3 race posed a formidable obstacle to re-election.
"Bubba could be influential in raising money," said Dudley, who has raised $6,000 so far. "We'll have to gear up."
Steve Kornell has raised more than twice that, $14,388, and also didn't know if he faced opposition until late Monday. But minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline, Bill Protz, the president of the Catalina Marketing Charitable Foundation, filed the necessary paperwork to qualify for the District 5 race.
"It was a last-minute decision, but this is something I've wanted to do," said Protz, 67, who sits on 14 charitable boards and is active in the Chamber of Commerce. His aim will be to improve the representation of south St. Petersburg.
Minutes after Protz filed, Kornell spoke to about 20 supporters on the steps of City Hall. Aside from the contributions, Kornell, 45, said he's also picked up key endorsements from the city's police union, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and state Rep. Darryl Rouson, whose wife, Angela, ran against him in 2009.
"We're not going to take anything for granted." Kornell said.
As expected, incumbent Wengay Newton will face off against Gershom Faulkner, a business and political consultant whom he beat in the 2007 race for District 7.
Herb Polson decided earlier this year he wouldn't seek re-election for District 1. Three candidates qualified to run in that race: Robert Kersteen, a former City Council member; Charles Gerdes, a lawyer; and Joshua Shulman, a financial consultant. Neighborhood activist Monica Abbott had opened a campaign account, but didn't file the necessary paperwork to qualify.
City Council members serve four years and are paid $38,914 a year.
Hatley's candidacy sets up an unexpected and intriguing showdown for the Nov. 8 general election.
Dudley's base is a daunting one. By his own count, Dudley, 67, estimates that he taught 15,000 students in nearly 40 years of teaching high school courses, serving as a football and wrestling coach, and being a driving instructor.
Hatley, 40, describes himself as a civil libertarian to the "Nth degree" who wants to rid the city of ordinances that infringe on personal rights and liberties, such as the red light cameras Dudley enthusiastically supports. Like Dudley, Hatley grew up in St. Petersburg and attended the same high school, Northeast. His mom was a teacher as well.
"Coach Dudley and I know the same people," Hatley said.