Pier, stadium debated at District 1 candidate forum

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“The citizens must make the final decision,” said City Council candidate Bob Kersteen about proposals for a new sports stadium and rebuilding the Pier, writes Linda Hersey, my colleague at AOL Patch.

Kersteen, one of three District 1 hopefuls, talked the most candidly during a candidates’ forum Wednesday night, about how the Council should handle the major development proposals.

Kersteen, who is a former City Councilor; attorney Charlie Gerdes, and financial planner Josh Shulman fielded questions at the City Hall forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

The only primary contest in Council elections is in District 1, on the city’s west side. The primary will be held on Aug. 30. The two candidates receiving the most votes will be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot for the general election.

On the issue of a new sports stadium, Kersteen urged the city “to get the Rays to the table” and “request that they open their books.”

As for whether to build a new stadium or new Pier, Kersteen said citizens should have the final say on “multi-million dollar projects.”

Gerdes said he would involve people in discussions on the Pier and stadium by holding frequent forums in his district. “I’ve gone on record saying that if I’m elected, there will be town halls every other week in my district.”

Gerdes said his reason for running is to “reconnect voters with their local government. If you can’t do it at the local level, you have a big problem.”

Shulman said he would want to give people the opportunity to talk about these important proposals but that it is sometimes difficult to get residents to turn out for meetings.

His solution would be to hold Council meetings around the city and bring the deliberations to the people.

Overall, the three candidates were able to distinguish themselves in styles and ideas at the primary forum. Continue reading Hersey’s analysis here.



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.