Kriseman nets council endorsements

Mayor Rick Kriseman has no major challenger yet in his reelection campaign
Mayor Rick Kriseman has no major challenger yet in his reelection campaign
Published March 22, 2017

Mayor Rick Kriseman has raised $260,000 for his reelection and doesn't yet have a major challenger.

On Wednesday, the good news continued with four City Council members endorsing the mayor.

Charlie Gerdes, Amy Foster, Darden Rice and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, all Democrats, threw their support behind their Democratic mayor for the upcoming non-partisan race.

Foster and Rice are up for reelection this year. Rice, the council chairwoman, has already announced her intention to run again. Foster hasn't made it official, but is widely expected to run again.

"Mayor Kriseman cares," said Rice in a statement released by the Kriseman campaign. Rice, a close ally of the mayor, has criticized the administration's positions on curbside recycling and the city's sewage crisis. But she echoed a frequent theme of Kriseman's in the past year: His tenure may have had its rocky patches, but his predecessors share the blame.

"We don't always agree, but we always find solutions to the biggest challenges facing our city. With the mayor's leadership, we have taken action on significant issues that past administrations looked past or did not solve," Rice said.

Kriseman's two immediate predecessors, Republicans Rick Baker and Bil Foster, are both believed to be seriously considering a run against Kriseman, who has angered both of them with his frequent invocation of their roles in the sewage crisis. No major spills occurred during either of their administrations, although 10.5 million gallons of partially-treated sewage was flushed down injection wells in September 2013 after moderate rains, an occurrence Foster says he was never notified about.

Under Kriseman, about 200 million gallons of sewage has overflowed into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays and local neighborhoods since August 2015. The mayor has announced more than $300 million in spending over the next five years to fix the problem.

Wheeler-Bowman said Kriseman has been strong on public safety. The mayor received the endorsement of the city's police union last week and Wheeler-Bowman -- who received Kriseman's strong support during her initial run for office in 2015--applauded his hiring of Police Chief Anthony Holloway, delivering a new police station and bringing back community policing.

No quotes from Foster or Gerdes were included in the release from Kriseman's new campaign manager, Jacob Smith, a former Hillary Clinton organizer and veteran of Kriseman's 2013 campaign. Smith was hired this week.

Term-limited council members Jim Kennedy and Karl Nurse weren't mentioned in the release. Council member Steve Kornell, who has been rumored to be considering a mayoral run, also was absent. As was the lone Republican on the council, Ed Montanari.

So far, only perennial candidates Paul Congemi and Anthony Cates III and Uhuru-affiliated candidate Jesse Nevel have filed paperwork for the mayor's race.

The primary is Aug. 29 and the two-week qualifying period ends June 23.