Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

St. Pete mayoral candidate Ford to miss debates; Sembler family hosts Foster event

Ford says no to three events

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford will not attend a forum Monday at Westminster Palms on Beach Drive NE. Mayor Bill Foster and candidate Rick Kriseman will attend.

Ford, a lawyer, said she has a deposition scheduled in Brooksville an hour before the forum.

Kriseman and Foster will attend the St. Petersburg LGBT Mayoral Debate at Metro Wellness at 7 p.m. Tuesday at 3251 Third Ave. N.

Ford says she had already committed to an event that night at the Crossroads Neighborhood Association and asked Crossroads to combine the events. The group declined, she said, adding: "I'm slammed. I didn't plan it this way."

Ford is also skipping the debate Wednesday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, saying she has a court case that could take two weeks. At the request of the Tampa Bay Times, Ford provided a court document showing she needed to be available for two weeks outside Pinellas County.

She said she will participate in a televised debate sponsored by Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9 on Aug. 6 at the Palladium Theater.

Heavyweights for Foster

In the race for campaign dollars, Foster is getting help from some residents with deep pockets. St. Petersburg developer and former ambassador Mel Sembler, right, and his relatives are hosting an event for Foster on July 16 at the Sembler Center on Central Avenue. Other hosts include well-known business owners and philanthropists.

An email to supporters from Sembler and his family says: "Foster has a vision for the future of St. Petersburg. He plans to continue supporting business expansion and job growth to enlarge the city's commercial tax base."

Another notable signer is former Sembler chief executive officer Craig Sher. He and Foster have disagreed on strategy for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. Sher would like the city to let the team look at sites in Hillsborough, but Foster insists on Pinellas-only options.

Let's count the money

Second-quarter campaign reports are due Wednesday for St. Petersburg mayoral and City Council candidates.

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

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