Wengay Newton is accusing Bill Foster of deliberately misleading voters by showing the City Councilman in a TV campaign ad targeting the city’s black communities.
Newton, who is the only African American City Councilman, said that the TV ad features him in a cameo appearance, without his permission.
Newton said that the television commercial shows Foster shaking hands and helping business owners, including a daycare provider, in the city’s black neighborhoods. At the end of the commercial, there is a quick clip showing Newton cutting a ribbon at a new business.
Newton said that the campaign ad incorrectly suggests that he supports Foster’s run for office, which he does not. “He has me cutting ribbons in commercials, and I have said to please remove from me from your campaign endorsements,” Newton said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“Mayor Foster doesn’t work with the Council, he doesn’t talk with the Council,” Newton said. “He has been in my office once since he was elected Mayor.”
Newton – along with a majority of Council members – has endorsed Foster’s opponent, Rick Kriseman, for mayor.
Foster has been scrambling to increase voter support in south St. Petersburg, which some political observers say could swing the election.
On Tuesday, he unveiled plans to bring on an economic developer for Midtown and create a citizens’ panel to address police relations with the black community.
Council members expressed surprise about Foster’s ideas, saying that he had not informed them. Some said Foster’s timing raises questions about his motives in the days before the election.
Kriseman, Foster’s opponent in the mayor’s race, has said that he would hire an economic developer for Midtown. He also has said he wants to examine some police practices, including the pursuit policy, and renew emphasis on community policing.