Former St. Petersburg Police Chief Goliath Davis is among the hosts of Rick Baker‘s first campaign event set for Saturday.
The event includes a picnic at Lake Maggiore Park between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Baker announced Tuesday he is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman to win back the job he held from 2001-2010.
Other officials listed on a promotional flier include a host of retired and present black officers who were part of a generation who served at a time of improved race relations at the agency.
They include Al White, Cedric Gordon, Donnie Williams, Reggie Oliver, Mike Hawkins and Hope Crews.
The black vote is considered crucial to any citywide candidate’s chances of being elected in St. Petersburg. Davis’ endorsement, in particular, is newsworthy.
At Tuesday’s campaign announcement at City Hall, Davis told SPB that, “I’ve always been a Baker guy.”
When asked about the fact that he endorsed Kriseman against Bill Foster in 2013, Davis said simply, “I’m not excited about what has occurred.”
Davis had an infamous falling out with Foster in 2011 when he was serving as a city administrator after Davis opted not to attend the funerals of three police officers who were killed in the line of duty. Davis’ subsequent support for Kriseman against Foster (as well as Kathleen Ford) helped boost his stock in Midtown in 2013.
In a post published in the Weekly Challenger in February, Davis defended Baker and criticized Kriseman and Foster after the announcement that Wal-Mart would be abandoning its store on 22nd Street South, writing, “As we progressed with the implementation of the Midtown Strategic Plan, feedback from Midtown residents was encouraging. Especially pleasing was feedback from Midtown residents who moved away and returned to what they described as an ‘improved revitalized community.’ The Baker Administration listened, responded and delivered the grocery stores. Subsequent administrations lost them.”
In 2000, Baker hired Davis, the city’s first black police chief, as deputy mayor in charge of Midtown. According to Governing Magazine, both Davis and Baker had worked to improve the neighborhood with a new library, theater, post office, health center and college campus, spurring shopping centers and privately owned retail chains. Businesses began to move in and violent crime dropped, despite persistent poverty and drug abuse.