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A look at the lighter side of St. Petersburg mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman

Number of the week

9

That's the day the campaign talk stops. St. Petersburg voters will pick the city's leader for the next four years. Will Mayor Bill Foster keep his job on Nov. 5? Will challenger Rick Kriseman unseat the incumbent?

Lighter side

As Foster and Kriseman battle for votes, Buzz learned a few tidbits about each man on the campaign trail.

Hizzoner doesn't dress flashy or like a king, but Foster did make the homecoming court at Northeast High School in the first year that males landed on the court.

His yearbook said this about him: "Bill claims to be an optimist, believing one should always look at the good side of everything."

Foster's patriotism started as a youth. An entire wall in his bedroom was covered with wallpaper resembling an American flag. And the switch plate for the light? An American eagle, of course.

And no All-American boy's room would be complete without a poster of Farrah Fawcett. Foster still has the poster, but his wife says it's stored in a closet. Wendy Foster couldn't keep a straight face discussing hizzoner's love for the poster.

Kriseman, on the other hand, has gone to the dogs.

In 2010, his daughter suggested the family train guide dogs as part of her bat mitzvah project. Three years later, the family is training its sixth for Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Kriseman is the main trainer in the home. At a recent campaign stop, Kriseman ushered Petey, a Labrador retriever, into a cafeteria at St. Paul's Catholic Church.

Petey sat under a table as Kriseman and his family talked with voters. When Kriseman told Petey it was time to go, he flopped over and pointed his paws in the air. It's unknown if Petey grew tired of campaign talk.

And how does Kriseman unwind at home?

He takes guitar lessons and jams to Pink Floyd and the Eagles in his den. He's also a Jimmy Buffett Parrothead and Star Trek and sci-fi nut.

Debate over

How many debates and forums have St. Petersburg City Council candidates had to attend? Just enough to push typically cool and composed people over the edge, apparently.

At a recent, sparsely attended debate held at the Wildwood Recreation Center, the candidates were asked to say something nice about their opponents. After months of campaigning, that's a bit like asking two playground enemies to shake hands.

Buzz couldn't make the event, but Steve Lapinski, campaign manager for Amy Foster, relayed the conversation on his Facebook page. Rather than speak well of her opponent, or say nothing at all, District 6 council candidate Sharon Russ, went on the offensive against incumbent Karl Nurse.

Then it was Nurse's turn to compliment Russ: "Sharon is a master of the cheap shot," he said.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @annamphillips.

A look at the lighter side of St. Petersburg mayoral candidates Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman 10/25/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 25, 2013 4:43pm]

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