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Rick Kriseman casts ballot for Lisa Wheeler-Brown, not because of Rays

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman cast his vote for Lisa Wheeler-Brown Tuesday afternoon at his polling place at Pilgrim Congregation on Central Avenue in West St. Pete.

It was a special day for Kriseman. It was his 18-year old daughter’s first time casting a ballot as a registered voter.

With his guide-dog-in-training puppy in tow and his family proudly looking on, Kriseman weighed in on his last-minute decision to endorse Wheeler-Brown over her opponent, Will Newton.

“I think overall people are just tired of the negative [campaigning] they’re just looking for people who are going to tell them what they stand for, what they’re going to accomplish and that’s it,” Kriseman said.

Wheeler-Brown has been blasted in the past month or so for a flurry of campaign finance errors and a questionable expense for dental expenses, but recent claims that she profited from her son’s murder paired with a mailer that appears to have been Photoshopped to make her skin look darker went too far for some voters, including Kriseman.

What he said his endorsement wasn’t about was the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I know no one is going to believe me when I say it didn’t,” Kriseman joked. “Because if it did I would have endorsed her a long time ago.”

And when asked whether incumbent Steve Kornell, up for re-election this year, deserves another term despite his opposition to a Rays stadium deal, Kriseman said, “That’s up to the voters.”

“I think they’ll consider everything not only on the rays but on all other issues,” he said. “I’ve never been a person who’s advocated for single-issue voting.”

Kriseman said he hopes that with at least one fresh face at City Council the board and his office will continue working on collaboration and communication.

“Relationships are two-sided,” Kriseman said.

Though it’s unclear whether Kriseman voted for Kornell’s opponent, Philip Garrett, his relationship with the six-year incumbent has been strained.

Kornell has been a consistent push-back against Kriseman’s deal brokered with the Rays to let them look for stadium sites outside of St. Pete in the region. And more recently Kornell has also been a booming voice against Kriseman’s approach to dealing with the city’s aging stormwater system.

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 Patch.com 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 janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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