Candidate qualifying period begins today for St. Pete elections

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After months of speculation, the political season in St. Petersburg is officially about to begin. Starting tomorrow, voters will have a chance to separate the serious candidates from ones filled with hot air.

Beginning June 11 at 8 a.m., candidates in the City of St. Petersburg elections begin the qualifying period. Those individuals intending to run for Mayor and city council will have until 5 p.m. June 24 to complete all the necessary formalities to participate in the citywide elections Nov. 5.

Since we are talking about government, of course there are a myriad of hoops through which candidates need to jump.

At a minimum, any candidate must be an elector (registered voter) of the City of St. Petersburg to qualify. City council candidates must reside in the declared district for at least the last 12 months as of August 27, the date of the primary election.

For a while, residency requirements amid redistricting appeared to hang up the District 4 campaigns of both Darden Rice and David McKalip. However, those questions seem to be set aside, at least for now.

For mayoral candidates, they must be a resident of the city for at least the last 12 months, as of the date of the primary election. In addition, candidates “cannot have become and cannot be a candidate, a nominee or representative of any political party or any committee or convention representing or acting for any political party.”

Any time before the end of the qualification period, candidates must file a stack of affidavits, statements and reports, including:

  • An “Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository” must be submitted before opening a campaign account.
  • “Statement of Candidate,” which must be filed within ten days after filing the paperwork to appoint a Treasurer.
  • Something called a “Loyalty Oath,” where candidates promise (among other things) to follow the rules of the Constitution and the Laws of Florida.
  • “Statement of Financial Interests” and “Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interests.”
  • For Mayor, there is a City of St. Petersburg Nomination Application.
  • For candidates for city council, a Nomination Application and Affidavit.

From this point on, qualified candidates are prohibited for paying to speak at political meetings, or use city officials for campaigning during working hours.

In addition, candidates cannot solicit contributions from any religious, charitable, civic or other causes or organizations established primarily for the public good. They also cannot give to any religious, charitable, civic or other cause or organizations established primarily for the public good in exchange for political support.

Other than declared candidates, write-in candidates for Mayor have a number of rules governing their inclusion on the ballot. For nomination in the primary election, individuals who appoint a write-in candidate for the council needs to file an application with the city clerk, declaring the district of the candidate. The candidate can also express their intention themselves.

All write-in applications must register with an affidavit that the candidate is a qualified registered voter; for city council, they must meet residency requirements.

Votes for qualified write-in candidates are the only ones considered valid, so a write-in for “Mickey Mouse” will not count.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.