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Robert Blackmon handily wins St. Pete City Council District 1 race

Blackmon, a real estate investor, took a strong early lead and held onto it over opponent John Hornbeck to join the City Council in his second run at office.
Robert Blackmon works the phones after voting in Tuesday's election at the Pasadena Community Church. He won the District 1 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council.
Robert Blackmon works the phones after voting in Tuesday's election at the Pasadena Community Church. He won the District 1 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 6, 2019
Updated Nov. 7, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — Robert Blackmon’s second run for City Council ended with his first win. He defeated John Hornbeck in Tuesday’s race for the District 1 seat, winning nearly 64 percent of the vote.

Blackmon, 30, a real estate investor, sidestepped attacks from Hornbeck about his career, his relationship status and his commitment to the district, which includes the Tyrone area.

ELECTION RESULTS: Find all of Election Night’s winners and losers at The Buzz.

RELATED: Disagreements in St. Pete City Council District 1 race stray from the issues

But the personal attacks weren’t enough to catapult Hornbeck, 35, a Democrat, past the well-funded Blackmon, a Republican who drew endorsements from local politicians on both sides of the aisle. Blackmon raised nearly $80,000, including substantial contributions from developer and real estate types, according to the latest financial report. Hornbeck, who was largely self-funded, raised about $21,000.

“Honestly, I am in a state of shock, it’s a win for me but I hope it’s a win for the city," Blackmon said. "Today is a celebration and tomorrow the work begins.”

Hornbeck did not return a request for comment.

St. Petersburg City Council District 1 will be represented by Robert Blackmon, left, who prevailed over John Hornbeck.
St. Petersburg City Council District 1 will be represented by Robert Blackmon, left, who prevailed over John Hornbeck. [ SCOTT KEELER | Times ]

Throughout the campaign, Hornbeck tried to contrast his near lifelong residence in District 1 with Blackmon’s recent move into the area. He suggested Blackmon was opportunist, moving into District 1 because it was up for election after he unsuccessfully ran in District 6 two years ago.

Blackmon countered that his experience living in other districts left him more attuned to city-wide issues.

Hornbeck also argued that as a lawyer, he was better equipped to replace outgoing council member and lawyer Charlie Gerdes. And Hornbeck said his marriage and expected child expanded his appreciation for issues surrounding women and children.

Blackmon, who is not married and does not have children, said any suggestion that his relationship status was relevant was “insulting.” He also said city already has a legal team, so council members don’t need law degrees to serve.

His top campaign priorities include affordable housing and sustainability. He said that as a property investor, he renovated homes while keeping costs down for tenants. On the environment, Blackmon backed an idea to put oysters into city waterways to act as natural filters, and to plant sea grass beds in the bay.

Hornbeck’s top priority was making the city’s youth programs more affordable. He said every dollar the city invests in youth programs saves roughly four dollars.

All council members serve four-year terms and make $49,281 annually. Blackmon will take office in January.

2019 ST. PETERSBURG ELECTION RESULTS

DISTRICT 3: St. Pete council member Ed Montanari holds off District 3 challenger

DISTRICT 5: Deborah Figgs-Sanders takes razor-thin win in St. Pete’s District 5 council election

DISTRICT 7: Lisa Wheeler-Bowman easily wins re-election in St. Pete’s District 7 council race

BALLOT QUESTIONS: St. Petersburg voters give big thumbs up to referendum questions