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Pretty good mayoral debate for St. Petersburg, but enough with the dinosaurs

I would knock off the dinosaur thing about now.

As we saw in yet another forum Wednesday, the race for mayor of St. Petersburg presents a pretty clear choice between two former City Council members:

Kathleen Ford, the agent of change, promises to get rid of city bureaucrats, flatly opposes a new baseball stadium and decries that "slush funds" built up at City Hall.

Bill Foster, the establishment candidate by default, promises improvement-by-degree: community policing, better customer service and we'll see about a stadium.

(On the stadium, there's actually not that much difference in the end: Both say the voters should decide.)

Wednesday's event was at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club at the downtown yacht club, a required stop on the local political calendar. Afterward there were strong opinions (in both directions) as to which candidate had out-performed the other. But they are both practiced enough by now.

Ford 2.0 (she has gleefully adopted the moniker, and her campaign hands out pencils with that slogan) is impressive. If there was, uh, any new news Wednesday, it was that Ford is really stressing the science angle, even declaring, "I am a scientist." (More about that declaration later.) She had stuff in her stump speech about attracting science, tech and alt-energy jobs.

And yet, the "science" theme also is a poke at Foster, who, in case you are the last to know, is a believer in the literal account of creation as described in Genesis, and wrote a now-famous letter to the School Board decrying Darwinism. So Ford has been getting in the dinosaur jibes.

"I have a sense of humor," she explained in reply to a question about it. Foster dutifully took umbrage: "I'm not going to apologize for my faith." And so forth.

She is one click away from crossing the line and actually mocking the guy, which would be unwise, and he is one click away from whining about it too much, which is mildly unattractive. I am more curious as to what they propose to do about the number of police officers on the street.

Foster these days is more explicit in branding himself as the "continuity" candidate. One of his campaign brochures urges voters not to "throw away everything at great risk to your family's future," as if a vote for Ford might be equivalent to, say, blowing your life savings.

After Ford called herself a "scientist," Foster sneered: "I thought Mrs. Ford was a nurse. Now she's a scientist." But here he is the one in danger of having it backfire. Don't look patronizing.

In fact, if you look in the annals of science — particularly the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise from the year 1982, you will find an article co-authored by an advanced nursing student from the University of Virginia named K.A. Sweeney — the future Kathleen Sweeney Ford. This article, on the effect of exercise on the reproductive cycles of female athletes, was frequently cited by later researchers.

Whether this makes Ford a "scientist," I suppose, is a matter of opinion, although I am thinkin' that at least it gets you a white outfit. Whether this qualifies her to be mayor, of course, is another matter of pure opinion, as is the timetable of Creation, whether the Yankees will win one for Mr. Steinbrenner this year, or, when it comes to cream pies, banana is better than coconut. In all these matters I have my own bias. But I ain't saying.

Pretty good mayoral debate for St. Petersburg, but enough with the dinosaurs 10/14/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009 6:32am]
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