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St. Petersburg mayor earns kudos for business hire

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was singled out as one of a handful of mayors across the country who are both progressive and pro-growth.

Kriseman was selected to join the NewDEAL network, which highlights local leaders doing innovative things.

The group gave the mayor kudos for hiring small business liaison Jessica Eilerman, whose focus is to help employers navigate bureaucracy.

More than just a rec center

St. Petersburg council member Wengay Newton thinks a name change is in order for one of the city's recreation centers.

During a meeting Thursday, Newton said he had submitted a new business item to add "fitness" to the name of the Childs Park Recreation Center.

The center, at 4301 13th Ave. S, is the only city rec facility that also has an indoor fitness area, Newton said, and people should know it.

"It's a gorgeous amenity but we have not been marketing it at all," he said. "It's the best-kept secret yet it's open to the public."

The best part? It's also free.

Largo mayor doesn't mince words

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard didn't waste time taking a swipe at her opponent this week after candidates filed their campaign finance reports.

One of two announced challengers seeking to unseat County Commissioner Norm Roche, Gerard, left, called it "shameful" that, according to her analysis, 96 percent of the $11,950 that state Rep. Ed Hooper collected in March came from "Tallahassee special interests and lobbyists." She said 45 percent of the $110,790 Hooper has raised came from outside of Pinellas.

Gerard, a Democrat, claims 96 percent of the $10,450 she collected last month came from within Pinellas. She has raised $65,582 so far.

"The choice in this race is simple," Gerard said in a news release. "Do you want the hometown mayor or the politician from Tallahassee?"

Hooper, right, a Clearwater Republican, told the Buzz that Gerard was in Tallahassee herself this month raising money for her campaign.

"That sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me," Hooper said.

Tom Alte, Gerard's campaign manager, said Gerard was in Tallahassee to represent Largo for the Florida League of Cities and did not receive contributions while there.

Hooper said he has avoided campaigning during the legislative session.

Retired dentist gives himself fundraising lead

In other campaign news, retired Tarpon Springs dentist Johnny Johnson Jr. has taken a big financing lead in the Republican field gunning for the open District 4 commission seat, thanks to his own money.

Johnson reported contributions of $18,850 in the month of March, bringing his total to $25,580. Of that, $16,500 was loaned to himself.

His closest competitor among the six announced candidates is Dunedin Mayor Dave Eggers, who has raised $10,360. None of that money came from Eggers, records show.

Johnson said he plans to raise $150,000, plenty to run a solid campaign and pay himself back.

"But if not, I'm okay with that," he said. "I'm committed to this thing."

There are two Democrats in the race. Airline pilot and East Lake Fire Commissioner Mark Weinkrantz raised $10,476 to Palm Harbor businessman Jack McAdoo's $2,045.

In the commission's District 6 race, Republican incumbent John Morroni has raised a whopping $53,070. His sole Republican challenger so far, Seminole businessman and vocal Greenlight Pinellas opponent Tom Rask, has yet to raise a penny.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at, (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter. Tony Marrero can be reached at or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.