1. News

Council hopeful Robert Blackmon fears for St. Pete's environment, infrastructure

St. Petersburg City Council District 6 candidate Robert Blackmon, 28. [Courtesy of the Blackmon Campaign]
Published Jul. 13, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Robert Blackmon is big on the saving the environment, a history buff and a real estate investor believes the poor and unskilled should be trained to benefit from the city's building boom.

Those were just some of the issues the candidate for the District 6 seat on the City Council discussed Wednesday during a meeting with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board. District 6 includes downtown and parts of Midtown and Old Northeast.

The 28-year-old Blackmon is one of eight candidates vying for the seat being vacated by Council member Karl Nurse, who is prevented from running again because of term limits.

Blackmon's campaign contribution report — his first — shows that he has raised $14,320. Of that, he has put in $10,000. The candidate, who only filed to run for the office in June, said he expects to be the "cash leader" in the next reporting period.

A St. Petersburg native and avid kayaker, he described District 6 as the most environmentally sensitive in the city and spoke about his concern for St. Petersburg's deteriorating bridges and sewer system.

"Everything flows from the environment," he said. "If the environment is lacking ... you could have less people moving here ... this could really snowball."

Though Mayor Rick Kriseman's plan to repair the sewer system "sounds good," he said it's too early to tell how the effort would work. Blackmon supports former Mayor Rick Baker in the mayoral race, and added that it's disheartening that the sewage repairs are being done as a result of a state consent order.

"We need to be investing all the time," he said of the city's infrastructure.

Blackmon said he also wants to see Spa Beach restored and become a usable beach again.

"My mom got swimming lessons there. It used to be a bustling, happening place," he said. "Right now it's some beer cans and some dog poop and one palm tree."

Restoration of Spa Beach is actually part of the city's planned $66 million Pier District project, which is expected to be finished in early 2019. But later, he told the Times the pier plans are still "up in the air" and said he wanted to make sure Spa Beach was not "an afterthought.

Blackmon also said he would also like to see both Salt Creek and Bartlett Lake — which, like Spa Beach, are also in District 6 — cleaned up and promoted as part of an eco-tourism program.

The 2011 Florida State University graduate said that he has knocked on "over 300 houses" in his fledgling campaign. He said topping the list of concerns among residents is the sewer system. The pier, car thefts, public safety and the Tampa Bay Rays also are issues.

Blackmon said he wants to see the Rays remain in St. Petersburg. The city needs to build a relationship with the team's owners, but, "at the same time, you have to let them look around."

He would like to see a new stadium at the east end of the Tropicana site. "There are really, really, really valuable development rights there," he said, adding that the Rays should get some of those rights to help defray the cost of a new stadium.

Asked about affordable housing, Blackmon noted that the city has plenty of old housing stock and that renovations, rather than new construction, help to keep prices low. But as he spoke about renovating a codes-encumbered four-unit building across from Melrose Elementary School in Midtown, the mostly poor African-American neighborhood just south of downtown, he recounted his frustrations in dealing with the city's permitting office. He went on to live in one of the units, but later sold the building and moved to Coquina Key.

He spoke firsthand about problems in Midtown, including "hearing gunshots all the time" and the area's lack of supermarkets and fast food restaurants.

He said he was disappointed to see Walmart Neighborhood Market close in Midtown close earlier this year. "I'll take their word for it that they didn't make any money," he said. "But it was always packed."

The city's current plan to bus residents to shop at yet another Walmart, " is completely screwed up," Blackmon said, adding that they should be taken to another chain, like Publix.

Other candidates in the District 6 race are Justin Bean, Eritha "Akile" Cainion, Gina Driscoll, Corey Givens Jr., James Jackson, James Scott and Maria Scruggs.

The Aug. 29 primary will determine the top two candidates who will face each other on Nov. 7.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes


  1. Amber Carr, center, wipes a tear as her sister, Ashley Carr, left, and attorney Lee Merritt, right, listen to their brother Adarius Carr talk about their sister, Atatiana Jefferson during a news conference Monday, Oct. 14, 2019 in downtown Dallas. The family of the 28-year-old black woman who was shot and killed by a white police officer in her Fort Worth home as she played video games with her 8-year-old nephew expressed outrage that the officer has not been arrested or fired. (Irwin Thompson/The Dallas Morning News via AP) AP
    The white, former Fort Worth police officer has been booked in jail on a murder charge for the shooting of a black woman through a window in her home.
  2. Tikerria Nashay Bell, 21, was arrested on a charge of attempted murder. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    She fled with their 18-month-old daughter, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
  3. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    Police say it appears the girl was accidentally left inside the Jeep on Monday morning.
  4. The Tampa Bay Times' annual Medicare Guide explains how the program is set up, helps you compare options available in the Tampa Bay area, and points the way toward help, including free, one-on-one assistance. This illustration will grace the cover of LifeTimes on Oct. 23, when the guide will be published in print. RON BORRESEN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    As the open enrollment period begins, it’s time to review your coverage.
  5. The Medicare Handbook for 2020 is a good resource to have as the annual open enrollment period gets under way. The government usually mails beneficiaries a copy. Find a PDF version to print at, or call 1-800-633-4227 (1-800-MEDICARE) to order a copy. THOMAS TOBIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The open enrollment period, which lasts into December, is a time for millions of beneficiaries to review, and possibly change, their coverage.
  6. Medicare's online Plan Finder has been redesigned and is available at THOMAS TOBIN  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The most-used tool on will look different this year.
  7. Jim Tolbert, left, staffs a booth at a senior expo for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, a state program that answers Medicare and other insurance questions. The program has scheduled a number of events around the Tampa Bay area during Medicare's open enrollment period, Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. Times (2015)
    About 500 volunteers statewide are at the ready. They work for Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, now in its 28th year.
  8. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. TMCCARTY  |  times staff
    The Fort Myers woman stepped in front of the plane and was struck.
  9. James Dailey, 73, is set to be executed on Nov. 7 for the 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. Left: Dailey at his 1987 trial, where he was convicted and sentenced to death. Middle: Dailey in 1993, when he was again sentenced to die. Right: The most current photo of Dailey on Florida's Death Row. Tampa Bay Times
    James Dailey’s execution remains set for Nov. 7. On Monday, a judge denied efforts to overturn his death sentence after a former prosecutor testified.
  10. Investigators are collecting evidence at the scene of a fatal stabbing on the 4000 block of 68th Street N. The victim was trying to break into a house, the Sheriff's Office said. KATHRYN VARN   |   TIMES  |  Kathryn Varn
    The dead man had sneaked out of a group home a block away. It’s unlikely charges will be filed, the Sheriff’s Office said.