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Editorial: Public out in front of leaders on St. Petersburg issues

The next St. Petersburg mayor should step on the gas. That's the message from likely city voters before Tuesday's elections for mayor and City Council. On the Pier, a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, red-light cameras and mass transit, the public is ready for bold and decisive leadership.

Governing by poll is not advisable, as the Founding Fathers understood when they established a representative democracy rather than a direct one. But polls are informative, and when the results are so out of step with the government on several issues at once, they indicate the public is far ahead of its leaders. That was shown in a recent poll of 800 likely St. Petersburg voters by the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and WUSF Public Media. On four major issues, the voters are more certain about how to move forward than the mayor and City Council.

The Pier? Less than one-third of the voters have an interest in restoring the inverted pyramid, yet Mayor Bill Foster has retreated on what was once a firm commitment to demolish the dilapidated structure and build something new.

The Rays? Nearly half of the voters want the city to let the team look throughout Tampa Bay for a new stadium, yet Foster has broken off negotiations.

Mass transit? Fifty-six percent of the voters support the Greenlight Pinellas plan for expanded bus service countywide and light rail from St. Petersburg to Clearwater, and the next mayor will have to aggressively campaign for the 2014 referendum.

The loathed red-light cameras? Most voters want them gone, even as Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman continue to support them. Is it any wonder that six of eight City Council candidates on Tuesday's ballot don't support them?

Voters in Florida's fourth-largest city are ready for change. The winners in Tuesday's election will have to deliver.

Editorial: Public out in front of leaders on St. Petersburg issues 10/30/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 5:23pm]
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