St. Pete City Council member Bill Dudley has endorsed Will Newton for the District 7 seat up for grabs.
“I have known Will Newton for over 20 years as a teacher and a friend. He is a person of integrity, who possesses a strong work ethic, and tremendous leadership skill,” Dudley said. “He has the ability to understand complex issues and to thoughtfully find solutions without compromising his integrity. He is ready to provide the kind of leadership that this city needs and deserves. I strongly endorse and support his candidacy for City Council.”
With the nod from Dudley, who is being replaced by City Council member-elect Ed Montanari, Newton now has endorsements from half of the current City Council. The other three to endorse Newton include Steve Kornell, Amy Foster and Newton’s brother, Wengay Newton.
“I am tremendously grateful for the support of Councilmember Dudley,” Newton said. “His entire career has been committed to public service, and I have great admiration for his tireless work in our community.”
Dudley is also the first Republican elected official to make an endorsement for the general election pitting Newton against popular community activist Lisa Wheeler-Brown. He’s also been endorsed by his former opponent, Sheila Scott-Griffin.
Scott-Griffin was the only Republican running in the five-way District 7 primary. The back-to-back GOP endorsements, even though City Council races are nonpartisan, could spell a domino effect of endorsements from other local conservatives.
That could pose a threat to Wheeler-Brown, who enjoyed a comfortable lead over Newton in the primary election. Both candidates are registered Democrats. District 7 is overwhelmingly blue, but the general election will be held citywide. That means more conservative voters will be included at the polls.
Wheeler-Brown has endorsements from City Council members Darden Rice and Karl Nurse. Jim Kennedy and Charlie Gerdes have not made endorsements. Gerdes had backed Aaron Sharpe in the primary. Neither Gerdes nor Sharpe have made endorsements since the election last month.
Newton is a retired firefighter and EMT with 23 years of service under his belt. He now works with the local chapter of the state firefighters union. Wheeler-Brown is a former president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations. Both candidates served on the mayor’s transition task force.
The general election is November 3. The deadline to register to vote in this election is October 5.