Saturday, April 21, 2018
Politics

St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman wins support of Leslie Curran

ST. PETERSBURG — While endorsements from voters matter most, Mayor Bill Foster isn't getting a vote of confidence from the City Council.

Four of the eight members are backing Rick Kriseman or Kathleen Ford in the Aug. 27 primary election. Three others aren't endorsing a candidate.

"I have served with the incumbent, Mayor Foster, over the last four years, and I have seen the total lack of leadership," council member Leslie Curran said before a mayoral forum Wednesday at the Childs Park Recreation Center. "It is a time for some real leadership in this city."

Curran lambasted Foster for the way he has handled negotiations with the Tampa Bay Rays over a new stadium and for Sweetbay Supermarket closing its store in Midtown's Tangerine Plaza.

Curran said she met with Ford to hear her visions, but endorsed Kriseman, saying he showed the most forward-thinking ideas for the city.

Council Chairman Karl Nurse and two of Foster's biggest council allies are remaining silent.

"I do not endorse anyone," said Bill Dudley.

Jim Kennedy concurred: "I always want to be able to work with whoever is elected. I want to avoid partisan politics getting involved in our city's nonpartisan election."

With Charlie Gerdes, Steve Kornell and Curran in his corner, Kriseman has the most public support on the council. Wengay Newton is one of Ford's biggest backers. He urges his Facebook followers daily to vote for her.

Jeff Danner did not return calls for comment.

As the campaign wraps up, Ford, Foster and Kriseman fielded questions from about 25 residents at the last debate before Tuesday's election.

Talks centered on Midtown redevelopment, crime and police department policies, like in the 11 earlier forums. Kriseman, Foster and Ford didn't deviate from their talking points or stump speeches.

Residents waited along a concrete wall before quizzing candidates in the 90-minute forum.

Many directed questions at only Foster and Kriseman. Ford and two fringe candidates, Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi, sat silent.

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

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