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Steve Kornell hopes the tone changes in St. Pete mayor race, but isn’t optimistic

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Unlike the rest of the St. Petersburg City Council, Steve Kornell remained neutral in the mayoral “battle of the Ricks,” which is why he felt free to blast the tone of the campaign on social media over the weekend.

And while he’d like to see it change now that it will continue for an additional 10 weeks, Kornell’s not betting on it.

“If it’s more Rick Kriseman is Paul Congemi, and Rick Baker is Donald Trump,” the District 5 council member said Tuesday night. “No, that is not good for the city.”

Kornell was speaking at the State Theatre shortly before Kriseman took the stage to proclaim he “would not back down” in taking it to Baker over the next couple of months.

Over the weekend, Kornell made a stir when he declared on his Facebook page he was “beyond disappointed” with the discourse of the race between Kriseman and Baker.

“There are serious issues that we ought to be talking about,” Kornell explained Tuesday. “I suspect nobody is going to listen to that at all,” he added, laughing.

Kornell, a Democrat, doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with bringing partisanship into a local race. “If you’re talking about how the Democratic view would be a better view on things like poverty.”

But comparing Baker to Trump “doesn’t help anybody,” he said. “It doesn’t help a homeless person. It doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t have a job, it doesn’t help out sewer system, and I’ll stick with what I said.”

Kornell felt it was a shame the discourse descended to such a level.

“I didn’t have that in a single one of my campaigns, and I got attacked,” he said. Presumably, that includes the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, which had notably endorsed his opponent, Philip Garrett, blasting Kornell for being an “obstructionist on the Tampa Bay Rays stadium issue.”

When asked about Kornell’s comments Monday, Kriseman disagreed.

“I’ve certainly talked a lot about the things that I want to do to move the city forward to finish the big projects that we started,” he told reporters.

Kornell says he’ll maintain his non-endorsement ethos as the mayoral race rolls into November.

“I don’t think anyone needs for me to tell them who to vote for.”

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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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