Editor’s note: The Tampa Bay Times provides an opportunity for candidates not recommended by the Times Editorial Board to respond. Here are the responses from the candidates for St. Petersburg mayor and City Council who took us up on the offer.
I’m running for mayor because I love St. Petersburg, and I want a city where everyone can thrive, no matter their ZIP code, and an economy that works better for all. I’ve served on the City Council for seven years, and during that time I’ve played a leadership role in many policy initiatives, including universal curbside recycling, the wage theft prevention program, and the creation of the Health, Energy, Resiliency and Sustainability Committee focused on clean air, clean water and healthier residents. My leadership on these issues has extended regionally, where I’ve served on boards to protect drinking water, provide better transportation and push for smart growth, not just growth for its own sake. St. Petersburg is heading in the right direction, but we have to move quickly with better plans to address the crises we’re facing, including affordable housing, equity and water pollution. As your mayor, I will.
I appreciate the kind words from the Times’ Editorial Board, which described me as “a nimble thinker who has brought intriguing ideas and energy to the council and the campaign’' and correctly noted I have “a record of getting things done.’’ As an entrepreneur, I have bought and renovated more than 100 affordable apartments across St. Petersburg. As a City Council member, I pushed to create more workforce housing, secured funding for a new fire station, helped small businesses survive the pandemic and led bipartisan efforts to restore the Science Center. I promoted government transparency and opposed deals benefiting special interests.
As mayor, my priorities will include improving public safety, adding workforce housing and creating a plan for the Tropicana Field site that benefits all residents. I am not a career politician, and I will bring new energy, an open mind and a fresh perspective to the office.
A St. Pete native, business executive and longtime civic participant, I have high respect for the mayoral office. It is hard work, very public, long hours, tough decisions with enormous responsibility, overseeing 3,000-plus employees, impacting 260,000-plus residents and beyond.
St. Petersburg runs through my veins. I understand where our city came from and what it can be. I’ve created jobs, turned businesses around, turned blight around and supported various campaigns from public works to the Rays. “St. Pete First” means St. Pete should be a leader in Florida and the country. The vibe and quality-of-life can’t be beat in St. Pete.
Politicians aren’t all bad, but it’s good to get us regular people in the mix. As mayor, I will work to ensure St. Petersburg is once again a priority in Tallahassee; I vow to never run for higher political office; and St. Petersburg will benefit from straightforward, street-smart, commonsense leadership and bottom-line progress. We don’t have time for more political double-speak with so many issues facing our beloved city.
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Wengay “Newt” Newton
Wengay ‘Newt’ Newton, leads with his heart and has a genuine passion for improving the lives of St. Pete residents, especially in the parts of the city that he calls the “areas of greatest neglect.” As a Democratic member of the Republican-controlled state Legislature, he had a record of building support for projects in his district, which include parts of St. Petersburg. Newton is affable and disarming, even when he gets rhetorically long-winded. — Tampa Bay Times
I thank the Tampa Bay Times for recognizing my 12 years of governance and dedicated service to the city of St. Petersburg. This is the first time I have not been the recommended candidate.
I am the most qualified candidate and with the relationships and bridges that I have built, I am the guy that can bring this city together after the nasty election.
I humbly ask for your vote.
City Council, District 1
Edwin “Dr. Ed” Carlson
Thank you Tampa Bay Times for your positive evaluation of my candidacy. Yes, “I’m the get-it-done candidate”!
For 30 years I’ve worked to better my West St. Petersburg neighborhood and our city. My experience leading the Jungle Terrace Civic Association, developing “Stonehenge Park,” establishing the Neighborhood Scout and Safety Program, and founding Police Chief Tony Holloway’s “Midtown Miracles Martial Arts Program” has prepared me well to serve on the City Council. Additionally, I have extensive experience interacting with city government.
Council is “time Intensive”: lengthy 1,000-page agendas, a plethora of committees, county boards like the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Forward Pinellas, plus regional boards. I am retired, financially independent, and my children are out on their own. I have unlimited time to serve my fellow citizens.
I can’t be bought or strong-armed. I have the bandwidth to be a full-time, responsive and effective council member.
I am eager to serve, and ask for your vote.
City Council, District 1
Here are the reasons the people will vote for me and have voted for me. They know that as an attorney and a second-time candidate, that I know the issues very well. They know that as a lifelong resident of District 1, I care about these issues deeply. Finally, they know that because I have not taken a single dollar from developers, I am going to be free from development influence and be able to work exclusively for them.
City Council, District 4
Thanks to the Times for this opportunity, and for the complimentary things you had to say about me. I remain differentiated from other District 4 candidates in multiple ways:
- I’m the only candidate pushing to contain property taxes (even Mayor Rick Kriseman now begrudgingly supports this).
- I was the first to call for a do-over of the Tropicana site redevelopment process to identify a new use that brings its own jobs engine. Multiple mayoral candidates have since adopted that same position.
- If elected, I’d be the only one on the council with real senior-level experience in the corporate sector, including significant past work with global infrastructure funds that could play a key role financing the city’s future infrastructure needs.
- I’m the only candidate that has been in a labor union.
- I’m personally associated with big private sector job-creation events, as opposed to the wishing-and-hoping job creation ideas of aspiring politicians.
City Council, District 4
I am the best qualified for City Council District 4 as I will push to:
- Improve our water treatment infrastructure so we stop polluting our waters.
- Improve affordable housing by looking at such solutions as tiny houses and expanded funding.
- Create vocational training opportunities through educational and business partnerships.
I have lived in Pinellas County my entire life and St. Petersburg for the last 30 years, and understand the issues of the area. I graduated from the University of Florida with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and have been a chief financial officer for public and private companies.
I owned a wine store on Fourth Street, have owned rental properties and have served on several non-profit boards and am currently an active board member of the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association. My two sons were raised here: Both attended Campbell Park and eventually one went to Gibbs High School and the other to Lakewood High School.
City Council, District 8
St. Petersburg is a great city, but we’re not without our issues. A housing crisis, environmental disasters and inadequate opportunity for working families all show us that this city isn’t working for everyone. As a teacher and organizer, I’ve witnessed our shortcomings firsthand, which is why we’ve run a campaign rooted in the community. Of all 26 candidates in the city, I am the only one to qualify by collecting petitions instead of paying a fee. Our platform of housing, jobs and environmental justice is directly informed by voters. We’ve done this while rejecting developer money in favor of small-dollar donations, and we have the most individual contributions in the city. I will put the needs of everyday people in St. Petersburg ahead of the profits of those failing to invest in our community. For these reasons, I believe I am the best candidate for City Council, District 8.
City Council, District 8
My name is Dr. Dane Kuplicki, and I should earn your vote for City Council, District 8 because:
- As a lifelong resident of Pinellas County, I understand the unique challenges and history of our community. I will bring a fresh voice and passion in addressing these issues.
- In a polarizing time, I am a political realist. There are times when a middle ground is appropriate. We need someone on the City Council who can listen, learn and govern with compassion.
- I have a varied background in finance, small business, hospitality, manufacturing, insurance and health care. I’ll be ready to tackle the city’s needs from day one.
- St. Petersburg is a modern city that needs to be full of opportunity and promise for everyone. We must elect forward-thinking leaders to ensure a prosperous city for all.
Thank you. I look forward to earning your vote on Aug. 24.
City Council, District 8
I am a mom of five beautiful adults, all adulting in wonderful ways. I am a strong supporter of the family. I am an entrepreneur, out-of-the-box thinker and know how to get things done. Why am I running? To serve! The Leadership St. Petersburg program ignited the love I have for my city. Privately, I have served families, singles and homeless people, firefighters, police, youth programs — including those with the foster care system — and I am an addiction recovery advocate. I am a champion of the marginalized, and do not tolerate prejudice. I wouldn’t mind your campaign contribution, but I’m focused on earning your vote! My platform includes: affordable housing, small business support, police relations, our existing food desert. Lots more at www.mayoforcitycouncil.com. Your vote matters, vote Aug. 24!