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Rick Kriseman picks-up major endorsements from South St. Pete leaders

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Rick Kriseman announced a number of high-profile endorsements from St. Petersburg’s African-American community Friday as he continues to build momentum for his re-election.

State Senator Darryl Rouson, County Commissioner Ken Welch, School Board member Rene Flowers and City Council Vice-Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman all said they would be supporting Kriseman.

“Mayor Kriseman has led on important issues and confronted big challenges” said Welch, who has served on the Pinellas County Commission since 2000. “His leadership has helped to bridge what was once a considerable divide between St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. Working together, we have established the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Area and provided the necessary funding for major projects. Mayor Kriseman deserves four more years.”

“The mayor understands the importance of public education and has fought to protect our public schools throughout his career” said Flowers, who served on the city council with Kriseman back in the aughts. “As mayor, he has not only been a presence in our schools but a regular mentor to students. Partnerships are the backbone of a strong and vibrant community where our youth can thrive, imagine, and grow. I look forward to continuing to work alongside him to ensure our students are being well-served.”

“I ran for city council to make our neighborhoods safer and to expand opportunities in a part of town that had long been under resourced,” said Wheeler-Bowman. “Mayor Kriseman has been a strong leader, a forceful advocate for sensible gun laws, and has worked tirelessly to bring economic development to my district.”

“The Kriseman Administration is creating opportunity south of Central through sustainable economic development and opportunity creation,” added Rouson, who has represented parts of South St. Pete in the Legislature since 2008. “I am especially grateful for his decision to ‘Ban the Box’, allowing for job applicants to simply be judged on their ability to do the job. I know Rick Kriseman and I know he is the right choice for St. Petersburg.”

Kriseman said he was proud of the endorsements.

“Working together, we have begun to make real progress for the residents and business owners of South St. Pete,” he said. “Due to numerous initiatives, including the 2020 Plan and our innovative community redevelopment plan, poverty is down and jobs and new business registrations are up. But there is still much more to do.”

Kriseman has a handful of opponents who have declared their intention to run against him this year, but his most formidable opponent, former Mayor Rick Baker, has yet to declare whether he will challenge Kriseman.

Polls indicate that Baker is the only candidate who could stop Kriseman from getting another four years as St. Pete’s mayor. The two men pushed aside their partisan differences and celebrated together this past week, as the Tampa Bay Rowdies overwhelmingly won a referendum that could allow them to expand the seating capacity at Al Lang Stadium.

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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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