The primary election ballot in St. Petersburg today is short, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the extra effort to get to the polls. Voters will set the course for the city's next pier. They also will decide the finalists for mayor and three City Council seats — two of which are open seats. Voters who are counting on waiting until November to weigh in may find they don't like their choices.
It's been a relatively quiet campaign season for candidates, with a citizens' referendum seeking to stop the pier design known as the Lens overshadowing even the race for mayor. That's understandable, as today's vote could be definitive on the Lens. Voters will either embrace a wrongheaded effort to go back to the drawing board by voting "yes," or endorse progress for the city by voting "no" so work on the Lens continues.
Voters would have benefited from more robust campaigns from all candidates, particularly in the mayor's race. St. Petersburg faces a range of issues that deserve serious answers — from the continued need to address homelessness and low-performing public schools to the Tampa Bay Rays' quest for a new stadium and attracting new businesses. Once the fields for mayor and council candidates are reduced to two, all candidates will need to do a better job explaining how their vision for City Hall will address the city's biggest issues.
More than 29,200 voters — or 18 percent of the city's electorate — already have cast their ballots by mail, making today's turnout all the more significant. In council races, only voters in those districts will decide who advances to the citywide general election, making every vote in a three- or four-candidate race that much more important. A vote today helps assure that there are viable alternatives in November.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Go vote.