Rick Kriseman “rules the mic” at candidate forum while Kathleen Ford’s black support “evaporates”

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Three candidates for St. Petersburg Mayor took the stage last night at the Open Mic Mayoral Candidate Forum at Bethel Community Baptist Church on 54 Avenue South. The event helped gauge  who deserves support of the Southside in advance of the Aug. 27  citywide primary.

The results — one candidate ruled the night, one dropped out of sight.

Mayor Bill Foster, former State Rep. Rick Kriseman and attorney Kathleen Ford traded barbs for 90 minutes at the event sponsored by the NAACP, Agenda 2010 and the SEIU public employees union, among others.

After the debate, the audience participated in a straw poll of which candidate out of the three “ruled the mic.” Kriseman ran away with the polling at 64.7 percent of the audience, many of which were from the African-American communities of southern St. Pete.  

Organizers of the forum say the “buzz” is that backers of Foster are getting the message that the incumbent “needs our help.” This feeing has led two key community leaders to arrange a meeting with the mayor in next few days to help “tweak” his Southside strategy.

Also mentioned in an email was  that Ford’s African-American support “seems to have evaporated,” if last night’s audience reaction was any indication.

The results of the Open Mic straw poll:

  • Rick Kriseman: 64.7%
  • Bill Foster: 16.4%
  • Kathleen Ford: 10.3%

Of those not in attendance at the forum:

  • Anthony Cates: 1.7%
  • Paul Congemi: 0.0%
  • Undecided: 6.9%

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.