Sunday, May 27, 2018
Politics

Curran ends mayoral speculation; Buckhorn crosses the bay

Curran's out

One person will not be on the ballot when St. Petersburg's qualifying period ends Monday.

Longtime City Council member Leslie Curran said she isn't running for mayor, ending months of speculation. City Hall watchers wondered if she would file paperwork in the final hours.

After spending 16 of the past 24 years on the council, Curran, 57, said it's time to focus on her art gallery and spend more time with her family. Term limits prevent her from running again this year.

"I've always been and will be devoted to St. Pete," Curran said Friday.

Curran said she frequently has been asked to run because residents are unhappy with Mayor Bill Foster's leadership. Because she challenged him in meetings, people assumed she would run.

"In reality, it was the right thing to do for the city," she said. "I wasn't elected to just sit there."

Curran pointed to a list of accomplishments, including working with neighborhood groups, artists and the homeless. She also is proud of helping revive Midtown and downtown.

Still, she declined to back any mayoral candidate right now. Can Foster win her vote?

"I don't believe that's going to happen," she said.

Misinformation

The most talkative St. Petersburg City Council member admitted he spread inaccurate information to constituents. Wengay Newton, right, confessed to giving residents bad details on the proposed Lens project.

Jeff Danner, who didn't call out Newton by name at Thursday's eight-hour meeting, urged council members to get the facts straight. In response, Newton said they all pass bad facts and that he at least admits it.

Buckhorn's invasion

Is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn eyeing a possible job across the bay or is he looking to annex St. Petersburg? He's tossing first pitches at Tropicana Field and will ride in a convertible during the St. Pete Pride's Carnivale parade on Saturday.

He's doing this in St. Petersburg — right under Mayor Bill Foster's nose. Where's hizzoner? He gets a pass for missing the parade so he can move his son to college.

Order in the commission

It always seemed curious that the chairman of the Pinellas County Commission — arguably the most staid governing body in Florida, if not the nation — needed a gavel. Aside from the occasional insult from a member of the public, order is the rule. But an odor dispute got a little spicy last week, after Commissioner Norm Roche, right, questioned the design of a sewage processing company's smell-mitigating machinery.

"Sorry I didn't make them to your standards," said Reliable Septic owner Mike Albert, who accused Roche of ridiculing him.

"It's not funny at all," Roche shot back, calling Albert's comments "inappropriate and a bit snarky." While the two men talked over each other loudly, out came the gavel.

Roche later said he was sorry. "I apologize … for losing my temper. I felt provoked, and I'm an Irishman, so I was going into defense mode."

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow @annamphillips on Twitter.

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