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Jesse Nevel says many St. Pete Democrats are supporting his mayoral campaign

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The most recent St. Pete Polls survey had Jesse Nevel in last place in the race for St. Petersburg mayor, however the Uhuru-affiliated candidate says that he’s actually getting the support of “many Democrats” who he claims are abandoning the Rick Kriseman campaign.

“As the Uhuru candidate, I really appreciate the support of many Democrats who are leaving the Democratic campaign to … support our campaign,” Nevel said on WMNF 88.5 FM’s MidPoint program Thursday.

Nevel, a 27-year-old Miami native who has lived in St. Petersburg since he was 18, is the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, a group dedicated to organizing white support for black-led community social justice. He says he’s had white voters tell him secretly that they’ll support him in the August 29 primary.

“We are urging anyone out there, and any white person, that says ‘I support this campaign but I have to do it privately’ to come out of the closet and be courageous this last month,” he said.

“People are leaving Kriseman’s campaign in droves.”

This, of course, remains to be seen. The last survey had former mayor Rick Baker leading Kriseman by eight points, 46 percent to 38 percent. Nevel was at less than two percent.

Both Nevel and fellow Uhuru member Akile Cainion are calling for a five-year moratorium on high rise buildings in downtown St. Petersburg.

“We’re seeing the waterfront basically being privatized for the private enjoyment of the rich. They are overrunning the skyline with high rises,” Nevel says, specifically calling out New York City developer John Catsimatidis for “buying up huge swaths of land in downtown St. Pete.”

“Downtown St. Pete is bikes, bars, coffee. That’s it,” Cainion about what she calls the gentrification of downtown St. Petersburg.

Nevel said the intense development downtown is only adding to an overstressed stormwater infrastructure, exacerbating the sewage problems in the city.

Excessive cheering by the supporters of Nevel and Cainion became an issue in the initial mayoral and city council district 6 debates last month, ultimately resulting in the Tampa Bay Times refusing to freely distribute tickets to the Bay News 9 televised debate last week at the Palladium Theater. Instead, the Times and Bay News 9 decided to distribute tickets to the event only to supporters of Kriseman and Rick Baker, resulting in a half-empty theater.

There hasn’t been a debate since July 25 and none are scheduled before the August 29 primary.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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