Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

Council member need not include 'graphic artist' on resume

To help understand the complex sale of Bayfront Medical Center, St. Petersburg City Council member Charlie Gerdes displayed a homemade flow chart on a projection screen before the council approved the deal.

After digesting the chart, council member Jeff Danner offered this advice for Gerdes, a commercial litigator: "He probably shouldn't quit his day job to become a graphic artist."

Campaign trail heats up

While St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman tweak their stump speeches, a third candidate is ready for the speaking circuit.

Perennial candidate Paul Congemi said he will speak at 39 churches and clubs in the coming months. His homemade business card describes him as a singer, songwriter, politician, mystic, philosopher and modern-day prophet. "I have the ability to predict the future," he said.

When asked who will win the Aug. 27 primary, Congemi said: "I don't see myself winning." But he predicts he'll top the 119 votes he won in 2009.

Pick me, pick me

Joe Paige, a 55-year-old man who frequently gives belittling lectures to elected officials, would like to be your next county commissioner. So would Andrea Wells, a self-described "freelance animal welfare advocate."

But, you say, I already have a county commissioner and there's not an election scheduled until 2014.

Paige and Wells are among four people who are betting that a term limits lawsuit filed last summer will eventually oust four current commissioners. And like kids in the front row of the class, they've already raised their hands and sent applications to Gov. Rick Scott asking him to appoint them to fill the (possible) vacancies.

The two others are Tom Rask, a business owner who lives in Seminole, and Carl Folkman, president of Florida Wine & Spirits and a Crystal Beach resident.

Like Paige, Rask is also well known for his scorching indictments of the sitting commissioners and other politicians. He seems to have it in for state Rep. Ed Hooper in particular, and has devoted an entire website to calling Hooper a liar and a sell-out. He lists Commissioner Norm Roche and former Commissioner Nancy Bostock as two of his references.

Folkman ran against Susan Latvala in the 2010 Republican primary and claims to have strong ties to county firefighters and veterans groups. He also claims to be the "honorary mayor" of Crystal Beach.

It's unclear if the four applicants talked before sending off their papers. Paige and Wells have both applied to be appointed to the District 5 seat, occupied by Commissioner Karen Seel.

There's no question that, in the unlikely event they are named, they would radically change the commission's personality, ushering in an era of opposition to light rail and a renewed focus on stray cats and dogs.

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente. Contact Anna M. Phillips at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

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