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Candidates for St. Petersburg mayor respond

The St. Petersburg Times offers candidates not recommended by its editorial board an opportunity to respond. Here are the responses we received in the St. Petersburg mayoral primary:

Kathleen Ford

St. Petersburg is a marvelous city. However, we face challenges.

Property tax revenue nearly doubled during the last eight years, yet the city never hired enough police officers. Now the city's crime rate surpasses both Miami's and Tampa's. Why stockpile millions of taxpayers' dollars in excess of reserve requirements while services are inadequately funded?

Now is not the time to use your tax dollars for a new $500 million baseball stadium.

Now is the time to use your tax dollars to improve public safety, remove business barriers and provide necessary services. I will reduce property taxes by 8.5 percent, streamline management and eliminate unnecessary programs, like parking meters.

Now is the time to elect a mayor who provides open, accessible, accountable and affordable government. You can trust me to be fiscally responsible, while keeping our city safe. I ask for your vote to be St. Petersburg's next mayor. See www.kathleenford.com.

Deveron Gibbons

I believe in this city — I grew up in this city — and have seen firsthand what works and what doesn't.

But these are tough times, and I don't need any cue cards to know what to do.

When I'm mayor, I will put the full force of this city behind fighting crime, creating and keeping jobs, and holding the line on taxes.

We will reduce crime across-the-board, and support a police department known across the country as a "flagship agency" other departments look to.

I know how to attract and keep jobs here — because I've worked directly with business leaders who make those decisions.

On taxes, I will not raise taxes — period — and will fight to stop those who raise spending we can't pay for, and taxes we can't afford.

Safety. No new taxes. Jobs.

That is my commitment.

And the only endorsement that counts in my race for mayor is yours.

Ed Helm

Shame on the Times for joining the local Glenn Beck meetup "9/12 Patriots" in endorsing a visionless, right-wing Bill Foster. We already know the results of his more-of-the-same approach: crime, foreclosures, rampant homelessness and skyrocketing unemployment.

My candidacy is endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton because I am the only candidate to offer proposals and leadership to solve our No. 1 problem: the need to expand good-paying, living-wage jobs to all our citizens.

I have a clear, bold vision for St. Pete — keeping the Rays by modernizing Tropicana Field with stimulus funds, expanding our tourism base, and helping small businesses grow jobs. See my progressive vision: www.edhelm.com.

Join more than 9,500 of your fellow St. Petersburg residents who voted for me for mayor four years ago. Please vote Ed Helm for mayor.

Scott Wagman

I believe that leaders have to lead. I believe that speed and decisiveness is critical in moving St. Petersburg forward to success. My interaction with the wonderful people of St. Petersburg tells me that they are ready for the kind of experienced, strong, executive leadership that I will bring to city government. The status quo — resulting in an appalling level of crime in St. Petersburg, the crumbling of BayWalk, the spread of panhandlers and a loss of jobs — must change. The foundation for our future success is strong in our city, but will need the kind of energy, creativity, progressiveness and skill that I bring to the table. Politicians of the past will not lead St. Petersburg into the excellent future that it deserves. I am the nonpolitician leader who will build upon our strengths to help us fulfill the potential of our city. Vote Scott Wagman for mayor, www.scottwagman.com.

John Warren

"They just don't get it" is a popular lament voiced by voters toward politicians who lack insights and sensitivity for common needs. I've entered this mayor campaign because after 35 years of business and community activities, "I do get it."

Regarding crime, I eliminated drug activity from my neighborhood.

Regarding panhandlers and downtown parking, where politicians see parking revenue, I see customer needs. And panhandling, it's all aggressive when livelihoods are threatened. Preservationists ask, will the Detroit Hotel or the YMCA be next? While career politicians prepare their eulogies for such a loss, you should prepare your ballot, vote for experienced chance.

Former council members say they'll protect arts funding. Where is their history?

Please consider my experience and history. Visit www.johnwarrenformayor.com. Together we'll establish balance between commercial and residential needs, between funding for new industry and the essential arts.

Larry Williams

Having been twice elected by the people without the Times' recommendation, and since the televised mayoral forum, I have received overwhelming endorsements from the people. The only important endorsement is your vote Sept. 1.

The Times' recommendation stated, "At times, (Bill) Foster has spoken in haste and escalated the rhetoric rather than cooling passions." In my candidate profile, the Times said, "On the council, Williams was thought of as a peacemaker, who forged compromises out of potentially bitter disputes."

I pledge:

• Panhandling will stop under my watch;

• Community policing and police visibility;

• To improve and help eliminate D and F schools;

• Rays baseball in St. Petersburg;

• Bring back BayWalk;

• No tax increases.

Read my accomplishments and position papers at www.LarryWilliamsForMayor.com. Please Vote Larry Williams — the best candidate to build on our city's successes and to lead us through the tough economic challenges ahead.

Candidates for St. Petersburg mayor respond 08/25/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 7:27pm]

    

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