Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mayor Bill Foster to face Rick Kriseman in Nov. 5 general election

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman emerged victorious from Tuesday's primary, easily defeating rival Kathleen Ford.

What was most surprising Tuesday was just how close a race it was.

The incumbent mayor came out on top by fewer than 1,000 votes. Foster ended the night with almost 41 percent of votes, compared to Kriseman's 39 percent, according to preliminary results.

Losing her third bid for mayor, Ford trailed with 19 percent.

Foster, who was celebrating with City Hall staffers and police union members at downtown's Midtown Sundries Sports Bar, said he wasn't surprised by the close results.

"We knew it would be close with the amount of money being spent," said Foster, referring to Kriseman's slightly bigger campaign chest that afforded the former lawmaker and City Council member the ability to buy television spots and glossy mailers.

Looking forward to the Nov. 5 general election, Foster told supporters Tuesday that he has the momentum to carry the city forward.

"I'm going to run on my record," Foster said. "I expect him to run on his."

Kriseman gathered with supporters, including council members Karl Nurse and Charlie Gerdes, at the Palladium Theater.

After state Rep. Darryl Rouson energized the crowd, Kriseman walked to the stage with disco music filling the room.

"Tonight, we've taken a big step forward," he said. "This is just a step. Nothing more, nothing less."

He reminded the crowd about his passion for the city and urged supporters to remain engaged in the coming weeks. To unseat Foster, Kriseman, 51, said he needs to win over Ford's supporters. Roughly 9,600 people voted for Ford in Tuesday's primary.

"We need their energy and ideas," he said. "I'm going to work hard to earn their vote."

Foster, 50, said he isn't worried: "We have a pretty strong message. Let's keep it going. Look at the momentum we have."

Surrounded by voters at downtown's Red Mesa Cantina, Ford said she has no plans to endorse a candidate and no further political ambitions. "I'm going to continue practicing law and do a little more kayaking," she said.

Unofficial results show that Kriseman overwhelmingly won neighborhoods south of Central Avenue, many in predominantly African-American precincts. Foster's stronghold seemed to be in the city's northern precincts. The men split the city's west side.

Although her campaign signs dominated black neighborhoods, Ford didn't win any precincts. She also lost runoffs in 2001 to Mayor Rick Baker and to Foster in 2009.

The two other candidates, Anthony Cates III and Paul Congemi, each received less than 1 percent of the votes.

It appears that Kriseman, who raised $156,000, was able to overcome the problem of not being on a citywide ballot in a decade. He served on the City Council from 2000 to 2006 and in the Florida House from 2006 to 2012.

The race to Nov. 5 will be different than the lackluster primary.

Both Foster and Kriseman vowed Tuesday to better differentiate themselves. Each said recent mayoral forums didn't provide a good opportunity to promote their visions.

The race also could come down to cash.

Kriseman's time in Tallahassee helped him raise more money than Foster. Raising even more is crucial. As of Friday, Kriseman had about $9,000 on hand, compared to Foster's $36,000.

"We're up against a well-funded incumbent mayor," Kriseman said Tuesday. "In the next 10 weeks or so, it won't be easy."

Foster and Kriseman have similar positions on some major issues. Both favor allowing the Tampa Bay Rays to explore stadium sites outside the city as long as taxpayers are protected.

They also support mass transit and the Greenlight Pinellas campaign.

They do clash on issues involving public safety.

Community policing and the Police Department's pursuit policy dominated the mayoral forums in black neighborhoods.

Kriseman prefers a method where an officer is assigned to every neighborhood, a strategy scrapped by police Chief Chuck Harmon in 2006.

Foster has countered that the program is alive and that Kriseman turned community policing into a buzz word to draw votes.

The mayor loosened the pursuit policy in 2010 as a way to crack down on crime. Kriseman vows to make the policy more restrictive.

At the polls Tuesday, residents were passionate about their choice.

Mike and Nancy Moore, both 59, each voted to keep Foster in office.

"I like the fact that the crime rate is down," said Mrs. Moore, who lives in Coquina Key. "And I love the way the downtown area looks."

Mike Greene, 55, used to believe in Foster, but stalls in the city's plan for Midtown led him to change his mind. He now supports Kriseman.

"The mayor is for predominately white citizens over here in St. Petersburg," he said. "Kriseman, I think he's been a little more clear on his position."

Times staff writers John Cox and Daniel Paquette contributed to this report.

Mayor Bill Foster to face Rick Kriseman in Nov. 5 general election 08/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Photo of the Day for September 19, 2017 - Great Egret with green mating coloration

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Barbara Motter of Weeki Wachee, FL.

  2. 20 local museums are offering free admission or deals Saturday for Free Museum Day

    Visual Arts

    For all the community's support of the arts in the bay area, it's nice to be rewarded with free admission once in a while. And that's exactly what many area museums are offering on Saturday.

    The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is among the museums participating in the Smithsonian's Museum Day Live, offering free admission. (LANCE ROTHSTEIN   |  Special to the Times)
  3. Cubs bring some other ex-Rays to Trop such as Wade Davis, Ben Zobrist


    Joe Maddon's first trip back to the Trop is getting most of the headlines tonight, but there are several other familiar faces among the eight former Rays now wearing Cubs uniforms.

  4. Bicyclist in critical condition after colliding with vehicle in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A bicyclist is in critical condition after he ran a red light and was struck by a car on Monday night, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department.

  5. Myanmar leader sidesteps atrocity allegations in first address on Rohingya crisis (w/video)


    YANGON, Myanmar - In her first major speech Tuesday on the worsening Rohingya crisis, Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, sidestepped allegations of atrocities committed against the stateless Muslim minority and cast the conflict as just one of many problems ailing the country.

    A Rohingya Muslim, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, carries his belongings as he arrives at Kutupalong refugee camp, Bangladesh, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. With a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims sparking accusations of ethnic cleansing from the United Nations and others, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday said her country does not fear international scrutiny and invited diplomats to see some areas for themselves. [Associated Press]