Thursday, February 22, 2018
Politics

Rick Kriseman swearing-in to be bigger, more visible than past ceremonies

ST. PETERSBURG — When Rick Kriseman takes the oath of office Thursday to become mayor, it will be a made-for-television event.

City workers will erect a stage and risers for photographers. A choir will woo the crowd. Besides providing security, 15 police officers will direct traffic and close the street in front of City Hall.

Taxpayers will cover the bill for the event. But city officials could not pinpoint the cost for the 30 workers assigned to it.

Kriseman requested the outdoor ceremony, which differs from swearing-ins held inside City Hall by former Mayor Rick Baker and current Mayor Bill Foster.

"It's important for the mayor of the Sunshine City to be sworn in in the sunshine," said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's spokesman. "This is a way to open it up for everybody."

He added: "Mayor-elect Kriseman welcomes everyone."

With the council chambers holding only 130 people, the outdoor space is needed to accommodate downtown workers who might come on their lunch breaks, Kirby added.

The same day, two new council members, Amy Foster and Darden Rice, and two re-elected members, Jim Kennedy and Karl Nurse, will take their oaths inside the council chambers at noon. Kriseman's will follow 45 minutes later.

Here are several highlights of his ceremony:

• Seats will accommodate 200 people. Others can stand behind the seats.

• No traffic will be allowed in front of City Hall — 175 Fifth St. N — between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Traffic will also be restricted on some adjoining streets between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

• St. Petersburg's Community Choir will entertain the crowd. Its members hail from Mount Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church.

The 15 police officers are being shifted from other duties and are not being paid overtime, acting police Chief Dave DeKay said, noting that he has no concerns about the event.

Robert Danielson, the city's interim marketing director, said an exact cost cannot be calculated. The work is typically done for other events sanctioned by City Hall, he said.

Danielson stressed that no workers will receive overtime to set up or take down anything needed for the ceremony.

"It's a new day," he said, "and we're looking at putting on a new face for the historic day."

Kriseman, who ran the costliest campaign in city history, has vowed to operate St. Petersburg like it is Florida's fourth-largest city, not a sleepy hamlet. He is bringing eight aides to City Hall with salaries totaling more than $750,000. New positions include a chief of staff and deputy mayor. The former council member and state lawmaker showed an affinity for well-choreographed events during the campaign.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459.

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