Even before he officially announced in May that he would challenge Rick Kriseman for mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Baker was playing offense.
The popular former two-term mayor led in early polls against the incumbent and he continued to lead throughout the summer leading into the August 29 primary election. Some thought the only suspense would be if Baker was able to get the 50-percent-plus-one of the vote needed to win the election outright.
Stunningly, Baker finished with 69 less votes than Kriseman.
Next came Hurricane Irma, effectively shutting down the campaign for two weeks. Kriseman has constantly been in the news during that time as he leads the city in the aftermath of the storm, while Baker has essentially been on the sidelines.
Trying to recapture the narrative, Baker on Friday announced his blueprint for St. Pete, a plan which consists of five main points: Public safety; Neighborhoods; Schools and Education; Jobs and Economic Development and City Services.
Keeping St. Petersburg’s streets safe. Providing every child with a playground a half a mile from their home. Lifting up our public schools. Fostering job growth and investing in low-income communities. Repairing the city’s infrastructure and sewer system. These are only a few of the core issues addressed in the Baker Blueprint.
“The Baker Blueprint is a concise plan for St. Petersburg residents who’ve been asking the question, ‘How do we make St. Pete the best city in America by working everyday to improve the quality of life for every resident?’ ” said Baker.
The battle of the two Ricks will resume in earnest next week when Baker and Kriseman engage in their first debate since the Aug. 29 primary. That will take place 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday night, Sept. 26, at City Hall. The event is sponsored by the League of Women Voters.