Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

Most St. Petersburg City Council members support Rick Kriseman in mayor's race

ST. PETERSBURG — As the clock ticks toward the Nov. 5 election, mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman landed the support of another City Council member on Wednesday.

The announcement that Jeff Danner is backing Kriseman now pits five of the eight council members against Mayor Bill Foster. Danner revealed the news on a day Foster and Kriseman spoke at three candidate forums.

Danner, who supported Foster in the 2009 race, believes Kriseman will be a decisive leader.

"Mayor Foster has failed to demonstrate any leadership in developing a vision to move St. Petersburg forward," Danner said.

Other council members backing Kriseman: Steve Kornell, Charlie Gerdes, Leslie Curran and Karl Nurse. Wengay Newton supported Kathleen Ford in the primary.

Kriseman, a Democrat, welcomed the support.

"Traditionally, you don't see this very often," Kriseman said before a forum at the Birchwood on Beach Drive. "They're frustrated. Council is ready to work in collaboration with a new mayor."

Foster is unfazed by Kriseman's council support.

"It's partisan politics and political philosophies," Foster said after a forum on the arts at [email protected]

But Danner isn't affiliated with any political party while Curran is a Republican.

The five council members in Kriseman's corner have all criticized Foster's leadership. The divide could make it harder for the mayor to pass his proposed budget later this month.

Still, virtually no new revelations on policies or visions emerged in the forums at [email protected], the Birchwood and the SPC Allstate Center.

Other patterns did surface, though.

In the coming weeks, voters can expect Kriseman to criticize Foster's leadership on nearly every question. Immediately, Foster will talk about steering the city through turbulent years amid the Great Recession.

Each man has a favorite phrase. Foster touts the "look, smell and feel" of the city; Kriseman touts "listen, learn and lead."

The men did hear one question that didn't come up in primary forums.

When asked what could be done to make libraries and pools more accessible for residents who work during the day, Foster said one of the city's libraries is available after working hours each day. Pool hours would expand if the city sees an increase in swimmers, he added.

Expanding the hours must be a budget priority even if the city must pay more, Kriseman said.

Foster and Kriseman agreed on two new issues they were asked about Wednesday that at least added some freshness to their increasingly stale debates.

Neither would install a Ferris wheel at a new Pier or convert Tropicana Field into an ice rink if the Tampa Bay Rays left the city.

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @markpuente.

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