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The Times didn’t endorse Steve Kornell, but here’s who did

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council member Steve Kornell has announced his list of endorsements so far in his re-election bid for his District 5 seat.

Among those who have signed off on endorsements are the local Police Benevolent Association, the local fire union, the Pinellas Realtors Organization, Sierra Club, Equality Florida Action PAC, The Tampa Tribune, former Mayor Rick Baker, St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees member Deveron Gibbons and the Stonewall Democrats.

The Tampa Bay Times did not endorse Kornell and instead put the paper’s weight behind his opponent, Phillip Garrett.

That move came as a shock to a lot of people in the city. Garrett is relatively unheard of in political circles and hasn’t made much of an effort to launch a campaign other than participating in political forums.

The Times’ sole reason for endorsing Garrett was his stance on the Tampa Bay Rays. Garrett said he would support the most recent proposed Memorandum of Understanding allowing the Major League Baseball team to look outside the city for alternative stadium locations.

Kornell has been opposed to the deal from the start, saying it’s not lucrative enough for the city.

However, that decision by the Times may be shortsighted. Kornell has a six-year track record of following through with improvements to his community and city. Think Boyd Hill preservation, Jabil circuit coming to the Skyway Marina District and sweeping improvements to that area. Many of the issues he’s worked for have aligned with issues the Times supported.

Yet now those talking points have gone silent.

The kicker is, the issue the Times has made make or break for candidates (they also backed Lisa Wheeler-Brown despite a flurry of campaign finance mistakes and coverups based on the same reasoning) isn’t even relevant anymore.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has said the stalled MOU previously voted on by council and rejected due to deadlock is not on the table anymore. Instead, City Council chair Charlie Gerdes has said he plans to bring another plan forward before new council members are inaugurated in January.

The council member he’s targeting to bring in a fifth vote is none other than Steve Kornell and Gerdes is confident he can get Kornell to agree to a plan. Kornell himself has even said he’s amenable to a deal.

After reading the Times’ endorsement of his opponent, Kornell issued a call to supporters on Facebook asking them to post endorsements in the thread. Several replied expressing strong support for another term including St. Pete native Blance Ganey and retired City Council office administrator Terry Lipsey Scott.

“City Council Member Steve Kornell has been tried and tested and remains true to the community he represent and beyond. His vision for a better St. Petersburg is far broader than a single issue, it involves a comprehensive approach to making St. Petersburg a better place for all,” Lipsey Scott said.

So, in a nutshell – Kornell has an impressive list of endorsers. He’s got more than $40,000 raised from a variety of donors including many who are local to his South St. Pete District or other parts of the city. He’s got a strong resume as a city councilman. All of those should be noted.

What should be taken with a grain of salt is the Times’ recommendation of an otherwise unqualified candidate who starts public appearances off by insinuating he’s a better candidate because he’s “a God-fearing man” or some variation of the sort. Translation: I’m not gay, but that guy is.

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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