Pier, red-light cameras separate St. Pete City Council candidates at debate

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Not many issues separated District 2 and 6 city council candidates Wednesday night at a forum held at the Sunshine Center. All candidates, in varying responses, said they supported urban farming, sustainability, mass transit, etc, reports William Mansell of Patch.

Where candidates had differences were for the often-controversial issues: the St. Petersburg Pier and the city’s red light camera program.  

Incumbents Karl Nurse and Jim Kennedy voiced their support for the “imperfect” red light camera system the city has in place.

Nurse said he has been a proponent of fixing the system instead of scrapping it. New Florida laws regulating violations on right turns and yellow light times have helped, he said.

“The net effect of that is to reduce the number of tickets in half,” Nurse said. The program, Nurse said should be, “discouraging red light running without digging people who frankly we should not ding.”

Kennedy, who was the council member who brought the item before council before its implementation, said the cameras are working and are making intersections safer.

He said city traffic reports show the number of repeat offenders of red light camera violations is small and the most dangerous crashes, t-bone collisions, are also decreasing.

“This is an evolving idea and the statue has changed,” Kennedy said.

Challengers for Districts 2 and 6 voiced their opposition to the program calling it a money grab by the city.

Kennedy’s lone challenger in District 2, Lorraine Margeson, said if elected she would vote to kill the program entirely.

“The red light cameras (would) be going away,” Margeson said. “I am a proponent of canceling the contract.”

“I’m not a proponent of red light cameras,” said District 6 candidate Sharon Russ. “I’m not a proponent of any money taken away from hard working people.”

District 6 candidate Trevor Mallory said the red light cameras have made intersection less safe because drivers are more concerned watching the pedestrian/crosswalk timer instead of the flow of traffic.

“Is it really about the money or is it about the safety,” Mallory said.

More from William Mansell here, including where the candidates stood on the issue of “The Lens.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.