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The Buzz: District 4 St. Petersburg council race gains steam

Where are the campaigns?

With the St. Petersburg mayor's job and four City Council seats on the ballot this year, one race is gaining steam.

On Friday, District 4 candidate Darden Rice said she is $800 away from collecting $25,000 in contributions and is asking supporters to push her over the edge.

"Let's do this. … Please donate tonight — at whatever level comfortable for you — and we can knock this out of the park. St. Pete Strong," Rice wrote on her campaign's Facebook page last week.

Her opponent, Dr. David McKalip, isn't deterred.

He tweeted last week: "Our Money Bomb is going well as people respond to my call to cut taxes in St. Pete."

He also challenged Rice to a debate. "Will you fight to cut taxes for all in St. Pete? I will!" McKalip wrote on Twitter. Both camps have tweeted responses, but Buzz doesn't see a debate date.

McKalip and Rice are battling for the seat held by Leslie Curran, who faces term limits.

Let's count the money

First quarter campaign reports are due April 10. Of the 10 St. Petersburg candidates running for the five positions, only two have held formal fundraisers: Rice and mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman. We'll soon know how much cash they grabbed.

Heapin' praise

St. Petersburg council member Jim Kennedy has ordered city auditors to appear before the council — but not for a scolding. After independent auditors gave the council's Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee a glowing review of city books, Kennedy wants to honor staffers who track the cash.

"It deserves a little bit of fanfare," he said.

Looking for respect

Is Wengay Newton the Rodney Dangerfield of the St. Petersburg City Council? The man can't get any respect from Bill Dudley, who chairs the council's Public Safety and Infrastructure Committee.

Dudley, right, comes across as Ebenezer Scrooge when Newton tries asking questions in meetings. On Thursday, Dudley rolled his eyes several times and shook his head at Newton. Dudley then kept talking while Newton questioned staffers.

"I'm sorry I interrupted your side conversation," Newton, left, told Dudley.

"I'm sorry, but my conversation involved the committee," Dudley countered.

Can't they all just get along?

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter.

My deficit is better than yours!

While talking about a $2.8 million deficit, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster said he is glad he isn't battling a $20 million shortfall like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "Its makes our $2.8 million rather paltry," Foster told the council members on Thursday.

The Buzz: District 4 St. Petersburg council race gains steam 03/30/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 29, 2013 4:13pm]
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