ST. PETERSBURG — Steve Galvin is not a typical candidate for City Council. His business card reads "Wikked Steel" and features pictures of the sleek custom motorcycles he's built by hand. And he makes a living by recording the sounds and songs used by toy manufacturers.
Yet Galvin is one of five people now hoping to fill the District 8 seat now held by Jeff Danner, who is term-limited. Galvin joins Amy Foster, a program manager for a Seattle-based nonprofit, Alex Duensing, a consultant, William Hurley, an Army veteran who is currently a student, and Robert Davis in the Aug. 27 primary race.
Galvin, a Democrat, grew up in Boston and lived for years in California before moving to St. Petersburg in 2003. When he and his wife, assistant city attorney Pam Cichon, bought a house in North Kenwood, he dedicated himself to trying to improve the neighborhood. After the housing bubble burst, he watched the houses on the block slip into foreclosure one after another until seven sat empty. He recalled seeing a young man brazenly counting cash in the open before heading into a nearby house neighbors suspected was doubling as a drug den.
Galvin, 55, bought three of those houses, renovating them himself, as he'd done for years in California when he supplemented his income by flipping real estate. He became a member of the North Kenwood Neighborhood Association and began tutoring kids in reading at a nearby elementary school. Galvin said pressure from homeowners pushed out the drug dealers, and stability returned, but the episode left him energized.
"I want to take that same mentality citywide," he said recently, insisting that he'd never aspired to be in politics. "I'm a doer."
On citywide issues, Galvin said the fate of the city's pier would likely play a major role in the election, as would debate over how and whether to try to keep the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.
"I'm an architecture junkie," he said, explaining his objections to the Lens proposal for the pier. At best, he said, the city would wind up with an expensive structure what would require large public subsidies. At worst, it would be "a giant monument with no functionality," he said.
In favor of the referendum that will be held in August, Galvin said he would like to revisit the four pier designs that emerged from a citizen task force in 2010.
On the Rays, Galvin said he would support a light rail system that would draw more visitors to the stadium. It's important to keep the team in St. Petersburg, he said.
Robert Davis, another addition to the race, did not immediately returns calls seeking information about his campaign.
News researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this story. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8779.