ST. PETERSBURG — City Clerk Chan Srinivasa stood talking and laughing with staff in his office as the deadline to qualify in St. Petersburg’s mayoral and City Council elections approached Friday afternoon.
For all intents and purposes, the field was already set. The deadline was 5 p.m., but it was too late for anyone to complete the paperwork they’d need to fill out in order to qualify.
Longtime clerk’s office employee Cathy Davis reminisced to the others there about the only time she’s seen a candidate show up just after the deadline to qualify for an election.
“Poor guy,” she said.
This time, there were no last-minute arrivals. Two candidates in the mayor’s race — University of South Florida political science student Michael Ingram and Torry Nelson — were the last to qualify when they each arrived Friday morning about 11:30, Srinivasa said.
Other than Srinivasa and his staff, only a Tampa Bay Times reporter and Meagan Salisbury, campaign manager for City Council member Darden Rice’s mayoral bid, waited in Srinivasa’s office as the deadline approached.
When 5 p.m. arrived, nine people had qualified in the crowded mayoral race.
Ingram and Nelson are on the ballot with City Council members Robert Blackmon and Darden Rice, former Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, former City Council member and state Rep. Wengay Newton, restaurateur Pete Boland and former political operative and marketer Marcile Powers.
Michael Levinson is running as a write-in candidate for mayor, so his name won’t appear on the ballot.
If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of votes in the Aug. 24 primary, the top two candidates for mayor will face off in the Nov. 2 general election. The Tampa Bay Times and Spectrum Bay News 9 will hold a mayoral debate at noon on Tuesday, June 22.
Edwin Carlson, Copley Gerdes, John Hornbeck and Bobbie Shay Lee qualified for the District 1 City Council race. They’re running to replace Blackmon after he launched his bid for mayor.
The top two vote-getters in August’s primary will move on to the general election in November.
Incumbent Brandi Gabbard faces challenger Kyle Hall for City Council in District 2. They’ll automatically advance to the November general election.
Five people will compete for the District 4 seat left vacant by Rice: Jarib Figueredo, Lisset Hanewicz, Clifford Hobbs, Tom Mullins and Douglas O’Dowd.
In District 6, incumbent Gina Driscoll faces challenger Mhariel Summers.
And four candidates are running in District 8: Jeffrey Danner, Richie Floyd, Dane Kuplicki and Jamie Mayo.