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Darryl Rouson endorses Will Newton for St. Pete City Council

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Florida Representative Darryl Rouson has announced his support for Will Newton in the St. Petersburg City Council District 7 race.

“Will Newton will be a fierce voice when our community is maligned, a calming voice when our community is divided and a sensible voice in dealing with others,” Rouson said in a prepared statement. “I urge everyone to elect Will Newton.

Newton is running to replace his brother, Wengay Newton, in the City Council district that covers much of South St. Pete including the embattled Midtown and Child’s Park neighborhoods.

The potential Newton swap comes as the incumbent brother is term limited out of office. Ironically, Council Member Newton is running for the state seat now held by Rouson who is also term-limited out of office next year.

Newton is running in a packed field of candidates including likely frontrunner Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Pasadena Bear Creek Neighborhood Association president Aaron Sharpe, Shelia Scott Griffin, and political newcomer and public school employee Elvert Lewis Stephens.

Newton is the district vice president for the Florida Professional Fire Fighters overseeing those first responders in Pinellas and Pasco counties. Before taking that post, Newton was a firefighter and EMT for 23 years.

“I am proud to have Representative Rouson’s support for my campaign,” Newton said. “I admire his long record of service to our community and it is an honor to stand together with him in this campaign.”

The news of Rouson’s endorsement Monday comes the same day two City Council members – Karl Nurse and Darden Rice – endorsed Wheeler-Brown for the seat.

In addition to his service as a firefighter and union leader, Newton is a past president of the Child’s Park Neighborhood Association and has been on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Public Safety Transitional Team Task Group. Wheeler-Brown also worked with Kriseman on his transition team.

Newton was awarded State of Florida Professional Firefighter of the Year in 2011 by Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet.

The primary election for this seat is Aug. 25. Mail ballots will be sent Tuesday to voters who have requested them. The final day to register to vote is July 27.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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