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Mayors gather to salute city's success

(ran East, South, editions)

Talk about a power lunch.

Seven mayors, past and present, gathered in one room to swap stories, exchange ideas and talk politics over barbecued chicken and beef Friday afternoon at City Hall.

It was Mayor Rick Baker's way of thanking those who came before him.

"The city's doing great," he said. "We're experiencing a renaissance that I think is unmatched in history. And it's not simply because of all the things I've done in the past two years."

Present at the event were Don Jones, who was mayor from 1967 to 1969; Randy Wedding, who served from 1973 to 1975; Charles Schuh, 1975 to 1977; Corinne Freeman, 1977 to 1985; Robert Ulrich, 1987 to 1991; David Fischer, 1991 to 2001; and Baker, who has been mayor since 2001.

"I can't believe they let this many troublemakers under the same roof," said Schuh, laughing.

Since leaving office, Schuh has maintained his law practice in downtown St. Petersburg. He said the lunch stirred many pleasant memories.

"The city is doing a lot of good things now," he said. "And a lot of these things didn't happen overnight."

Like Schuh, most of these former lawmakers are keeping busy. Ulrich also has a law practice and is active on the board of the Salvador Dali Museum. Fischer is chairman of the Florida Orchestra.

Wedding is an architect and Freeman is a financial adviser with Wachovia Securities.

Jones serves as a consultant for the insurance industry. He and his wife, Mary, spend half the year in St. Petersburg and the remainder in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Jones said he held a similar gathering for mayors in 1968. To his knowledge, it was the last such event until Friday's.

"It was really nice," Jones said. "It was very gracious of the mayor to arrange it. Plus it gives him a little historical perspective on the city."

_ Carrie Johnson can be reached at 892-2273 or cjohnsonsptimes.com.

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