Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage

Tampa Bay Times
July 24, 2017
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A draft report lays blame for the city’s sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

The state report confirmed what many had long suspected: closing the plant was a major factor leading to the release of up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months.

But what about before the plant was taken offline? Should city officials have known how risky it was to close Albert Whitted? Was there any warning?

In fact, there was a warning — sounded from inside the Water Resources Department.

It was delivered on March 21, 2015, just weeks before Albert Whitted was closed that April. The Tampa Bay Times obtained an email from a high-ranking sewer official warning his superiors of signs that closing Albert Whitted might be stressing the city’s sewage system.

Back in 2015, the city spent months slowly transferring Albert Whitted’s sewage flow to the Southwest plant next to Eckerd College in preparation for shutting Albert Whitted down.

Charlie Wise, who supervises the city’s three remaining sewer plants, said he sent the email to warn of higher-than-anticipated sewage flows into the Southwest plant, which was receiving Albert Whitted’s flows.

“I don’t know whether I would say that Albert Whitted should have been kept open,” he told the Times. “In my opinion, it was enough so that someone ought to have at least looked at it.”

None of his superiors responded to Wise’s email, records show.

A spokesman for the mayor said Kriseman was never told of Wise’s concerns.

The city took no action to delay or cancel the closing of Albert Whitted.

“There was this alarm bell going off and no one listened,” said City Council member Amy Foster.

• • •

The Times obtained Wise’s email as part of a trove of documents released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from a federal inquiry into the crisis. The investigation ended in May, and the documents were released July 5.

The sewage crisis has become the issue in the mayoral contest pitting the incumbent Kriseman against former Mayor Rick Baker.

The process to close Albert Whitted started in 2011 when the City Council voted to close the plant. That decision was carried out by the Kriseman administration in 2015.

Baker, who was mayor from 2001-10, has hammered his opponent for closing the plant, calling it a huge error. Kriseman has blamed former city officials for giving him terrible advice.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s draft report lays out the Kriseman administration’s missteps. It was also the basis for Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe’s recent decision not to file criminal charges against city employees. However, FWC said its investigation is not yet over.

The closure of Albert Whitted came under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine last year as the city’s sewers overflowed with waste. Another state report concluded that the plant’s closure exacerbated the sewage spills.

Last year a 2014 consultant’s report came to light that warned it was risky to close Albert Whitted. Kriseman and City Council members said they never saw the report and hired an investigator to determine if it was kept from them. The investigator concluded it was not.

That 2014 study, though, was theoretical. Wise was seeing a potential problem in real time and noting his observations daily. His March 2015 email is the most concrete indication yet that red flags were being raised before Albert Whitted was closed.

• • •

No one was talking about sewers in the spring of 2015. Kriseman was negotiating a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays that would allow the team to look outside the city for a new ballpark. A citywide recycling program was also poised to start.

Albert Whitted was mostly known by residents as the local airport. The 1920s-era sewage plant, the city’s first, was an afterthought tucked away along the waterfront.

Then Wise fired off that March 21, 2015 email.

“Quality check me here!” he wrote. “The point is that I want some quality checking of my concern that we are seeing flows higher than projected (in a 2010 consultant study).”

Wise was measuring the combined flows from the Albert Whitted and Southwest sewage plants. More and more of Albert Whitted’s workload was being pumped to Southwest.

Wise was manually recording the flows each day. He was concerned that the volume of sewage coming into the Southwest plant was higher than the study had predicted.

“Am I missing something or misinterpreting?” Wise asked in the email.

The only one to respond to the email was a city employee under him: His brother Kenny Wise, chief operator of the Southwest plant.

“You are not missing or misinterpreting anything,” Kenny Wise wrote. His email reply said the problem had been occurring for at least a year. He said it actually started even before the Southwest plant started taking on the extra flow.

No one above Charlie Wise responded to his email. So he said he talked to his then-boss, former Water Resources Director Steve Leavitt, about the issue. Wise said Leavitt didn’t think the flows were high enough to change the city’s plan to close Albert Whitted.

Leavitt, who was fired by Kriseman last year, wrote an email to the Times saying he doesn’t remember any specific conversations or emails regarding higher flows.

Former Public Works Administrator Mike Connors, who abruptly retired at the start of the sewage spills in August 2015, did not return a request for comment. Kriseman has blamed Connors and Leavitt for misleading him about the efficacy of closing Albert Whitted.

• • •

Wise said he followed the chain of command. When his bosses failed to act on his concerns, he simply accepted it.

City Council member Steve Kornell said he was dismayed to learn that another warning sign of the impending sewage mess was ignored.

“I was never informed about these increased flows,” Kornell said. “I think this underscores my initial concerns, which were our staff was not telling us all the information… It absolutely should have stopped the closure of the Albert Whitted plant in my opinion.”

Unlike the 2014 consultant’s study, Wise’s email was never discussed during many hours of City Council discussions about sewage problems.

The City Council on Thursday agreed to a consent order with the state that requires the city to spend $326 million to fix its sewage system.

The FWC draft report went into great detail about the role closing Albert Whitted played in the sewage crisis. Wise said he spent hours being interviewed by federal and state investigators, and they repeatedly brought up the closing of Albert Whitted and the 2014 consultant’s report, asking him:

“Why was this done? What about this study?”

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Rick Kriseman’s administration lashed in St. Pete sewage report

Tampa Bay Times
Jul 21, 2017
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ST. PETERSBURG — A state report places much of the blame for the city’s 200-million gallon sewage spill crisis on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The 7-page draft report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, does not name Kriseman or any of his staff. It also starts with the long view, blaming two decades of city leadership for setting the stage for St. Petersburg’s massive sewage problems.

Then the report quickly zooms in on the recent crisis and the mistakes, indifference and neglect that sparked it, exacerbated it and prevented City Hall from making a course correction while millions of gallons of sewage spewed into neighborhoods and waterways.

“(St. Petersburg’s) leadership has had a culture of being willfully and negligently indifferent toward known problems in its waste water treatment system that ultimately lead to some of the largest wastewater discharges in State history,” wrote FWC investigator Ammon Fisher.

This is the report that Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe used when he recently decided that no city officials should face criminal charges in the sewage mess.

But its real impact will be felt amidst a brutal mayoral election pitting Kriseman against former Mayor Rick Baker, who has heavily criticized his foe’s handling of the crisis.

The report is especially scathing in assessing the Kriseman administration’s 2015 decision to shut down the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility — and then the mayor’s failure to reopen the plant to alleviate the sewage spills as the crisis raged.

Kriseman texted this statement to the Times late Friday.

“I reviewed the investigator’s report, and given that the State Attorney has closed the case, I have no further comment on it other than to say that I am looking forward to doing what the report noted hadn’t been done in 20 years, addressing inflow, infiltration and capacity in a meaningful way.”

The Baker campaign texted this statement on behalf of its candidate:

“The news is devastating. This report confirms that Kriseman’s closing of Albert Whitted plant caused the 2015 spill, that failure to reopen the plant after the spill was an inexcusable and tragic mistake that Kriseman gambled on our safety — and lost. It is past time to accept responsibility.”

Baker is also not named in the report. But it also blames his mayoral administration from 2001-10 and others for not doing enough to fix leaky pipes that contributed to the city’s sewage problems.

One sewage issue that Baker keeps hammering Kriseman on is the closure of the Albert Whitted sewage plant. It was City Council that actually voted to close it in 2011.

But the report said the Kriseman administration’s decision to carry out that plan in 2015 without upgrading capacity at the city’s other three sewage plant “was essentially a gamble that they would not have a wet weather event.”

Instead, a tropical storm and a hurricane lashed the city.

After the heavy rains of August 2015 led to the first spills, the report criticized the mayor for choosing not to reopen Albert Whitted.

The mayor’s office also claimed then those rains were a “historic” and “unprecedented” and a “100 year event.”

“These claims are not based in fact or reality,” the investigator wrote.

The FWC report also dismissed talk that any of the city’s many sewage problems were adequately repaired in the past. That passage does not name Baker, but dovetails with statements he has made on the campaign trail.

“Claims made by others that they thought the system was fixed and therefore did not need to worry about it,” the report said, “were not based in fact.”

The report also takes a dim view of the city’s longtime sewage practices, such as pumping of hundreds of millions of gallons of partially-treated sewage hundreds of feet in the ground through injection wells during emergencies.

“The city appears to follow a theme of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ when it comes to injection of wastewater,” the report said. “This blatant disregard for the Clean Water Act is putting our ground water at risk.”

The City Council voted Thursday to approve a consent order with the state, pledging to spend $326 million to fix its sewage system. The city and McCabe’s staff both noted that agreement as a reason why criminal charges were not filed. The draft report doesn’t levy specific charges against individuals, but instead lists multiple violations of state law by the city.

The FWC investigation is ongoing, however. Executive director Nick Wiley said a final report should be filed with the State’s Attorney’s Office by the end of next week.

So if the inquiry is still active, why has McCabe already decided not to file charges?

“I’m relying on the memo,” the county’s top prosecutor said Friday. “If they have something else they’ve come across, we’ll take a look at it.”

It’s not just the Kriseman and Baker administrations that were criticized in the report. No one who has served in City Hall in recent years was spared:

“These were willful and negligent acts that could have been avoided or at least significantly mitigated had the city taken action 20 years ago.”

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Politifact: Did the number of A schools increase under former mayor Rick Baker?

Politifact
July 21st, 2017
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Rick Baker has used mailers, forums and social media to relay one big message in his campaign for St. Petersburg mayor: Schools in St. Petersburg saw drastic improvements when he was mayor from 2001 to 2010.

During an interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board July 13, Baker touted his efforts to help improve public schools in the city, which included a mentoring program he started in 2001.

“We went from zero A elementary schools when I took office to 16 when I left, and our total A and B schools went up by 260 percent,” Baker said. “I don’t take credit for that, I honestly don’t. I know that there’s a lot of factors that build into that, but I’m just saying we were a helper and the schools did not feel abandoned in St. Pete when we did that.”

With this talking point coming up again and again, we wondered about the number of A schools Baker referenced.

Baker’s data is right on the numbers, but as he acknowledged, there are a lot of factors that can affect school grades.

The number of A elementary schools increased

The relevant data comes from the Florida Department of Education.

Every year since 1999, the Florida Department of Education has released individual grades for schools in the state after the academic year.

The grading formula gauges schools’ performance based on how many students score at grade level and how many students made improvements in core curriculum areas of math, language arts and science. Schools can receive a grade of A, B, C, D, F or I (incomplete).

Baker’s evidence for his statement is based on the grades of elementary schools included in his “Mayor’s, Mentors and More” program, which included the majority of elementary schools in St. Petersburg starting in 2001. The program included initiatives such as scholarships, corporate partnerships and business mentoring.

Baker spokeswoman Brigitta Shouppe said schools that had 51 percent of their students living in the city of St. Petersburg were included in the program, ranging from 27 to 30 schools each year.

According to the state data, there were zero A elementary schools from that group in 2001.

At the end of Baker’s last full year in office in 2009, the number of A elementary schools had jumped dramatically to 16. The number of A and B total schools (not just elementary schools) went from seven in July 2001 to 26 in July 2009. That’s an increase of about 271 percent.

The improvement in A-rated schools was not a steady build; the number fluctuated year to year.

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Fire Fighters endorse Rick Baker for mayor

Tampa Bay Times
July 14, 2017
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The firefighters union has endorsed former mayor Rick Baker, saying he is “tough, but fair” in negotiations and better addresses the department’s needs than incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Rick Pauley, president of the St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters, told the Tampa Bay Times that Baker, who they endorsed twice in 2001 and 2005, made sure the department had what it needed in a “timely manner.”

Kriseman was always receptive to a meeting, Pauley said, but didn’t deliver results on equipment or concerns about staffing and call volumes.

“St. Petersburg is safer with Rick Baker as mayor,” Pauley said in a news release.

The mayor did deliver a new fire station, but Pauley said the decrepit condition of the old station gave Kriseman little choice.

IAFF Local 747 represents 417 firefighters and paramedics who live in St. Petersburg, Lealman and South Pasadena.

Kriseman has the police union’s support. A state-of-the-art police headquarters didn’t hurt.

The Florida Public Services Union, which represents a large chunk of city workers, hasn’t yet made a choice in the mayor’s race.

The Kriseman campaign responded with a statement from the mayor.

“I’ll always be proud of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day. As mayor, I’ll continue to ensure that we have the best trained, best equipped first responders that keep us and our city safe.”

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Rick Baker airing TV ad touting environmental credentials

July 5th, 2017
SaintPetersBlog
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Although the Sierra Club endorsed Rick Kriseman in the race for St. Petersburg mayor, Rick Baker isn’t ready to concede any ground on which candidate has the best environmental credentials.

Baker’s campaign released a television ad Wednesday touting the gains the city made on the environmental front during the former mayor’s two terms in office (2001-2010).

The ad begins with a reference to St. Pete’s designation in 2005 as Florida’s first “Green City” and includes references to how Baker expanded city parks, cleaned up Lake Maggiore, built bike trails and planted over 20,000 trees during his tenure.

Missing is any mention of Kriseman’s handling of the sewage situation, something that Baker rarely neglects to mention on the campaign trail.

In a statement, the Baker campaign makes sure not to omit that storyline.

“When he is elected in 2017, Baker will immediately work to repair the damage caused by Rick Kriseman to our sewer systems and bring our sewer system back to its previous ranking as the best maintained major city sewer system in the state of Florida,” says the Baker campaign statement.

The statement also notes that Baker invested “tens of millions of dollars in improvements to sewer plants, pipes and lift stations throughout the city to reduce the threat of overflow — resulting in St. Petersburg being named the best maintained large system in Florida,” (an honor the city received in May 2010 from Municipal Sewer and Water Magazine).

“A 30 second ad can’t change 9 years of silence on climate change and opposition to curbside recycling, ” responds Jacob Smith, the campaign manager for Kriseman. “Groups like the Sierra Club aren’t falling for it, and neither is St. Petersburg. Mayor Kriseman isn’t afraid to take action on climate change, and has pledged to uphold the Paris climate agreement. Mayor Kriseman fought offshore oil drilling alongside Charlie Crist, and under Mayor Kriseman, St. Petersburg is moving to 100% renewable energy.”

Click here to watch the ad!

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In poll of St. Pete’s mayoral race, Rick Baker holds 5 point lead over Rick Kriseman

June 28th, 2017
Florida Politics
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Former two-term St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker holds a five-point lead over incumbent first-term Mayor Rick Kriseman according to the first survey of St. Petersburg’s mayoral race since candidate qualifying.

And as much as the race is defined as a showdown of the two Ricks, it appears the race could be headed to a run-off in November.

Baker is at 44 percent, while Kriseman is at 39 percent. That’s a tighter margin than the May 17 St. Pete Polls survey which gave Baker a double-digit lead over Kriseman. (Of course, it’s somewhat a comparison of apples to oranges by putting a head-to-head poll up against a multi-candidate survey.)

But this survey includes the five tomato cans – Ernisa Bardwell, Anthony Cates, Paul Congemi, Jesse Nevel, and Momma Tee Lassiter – who qualified earlier this month to be on the same ballot as Baker and Kriseman.

There’s little chance any of these five candidates reach double-digits in the polls, much less win the race, but they are likely to keep Baker or Kriseman from reaching the terminal velocity necessary to escape a run-off.

Lassiter drew 3 percent support, while Cates, Congemi, and Nevel each received 2 percent support.

Nine percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.

Doing the math, so long as the tomato cans continue to receive a combined 9 or 10 percent of the vote and Baker and Kriseman evenly split the undecideds, the winner of the primary would fall just short of the 50 percent threshold necessary to avoid a run-off.

While the St. Petersburg race is non-partisan, Baker enjoys strong support from Republicans, with 68 percent of Republicans backing him.

Only 54 percent of Democrats back the “proud Democrat” Rick Kriseman.

It’s likely that black Democrats are the ones breaking Baker’s way. He received 38 percent of black voters support in this survey, while Kriseman received 36 percent.

There doesn’t appear to be a gender gap in this race as Baker is narrowly leading Kriseman with both men and women voters.

The poll also surveyed two of the City Council races.

In the District 2 race, in which Barclay Harless and Brandi Gabbard are squaring off, Gabbard has a 16 point lead (30 percent to 14 percent), although “unsure” dominates the field there.

And there’s a little bit of a surprise in District 4, where incumbent Darden Rice is facing political neophyte Jerick Johnston. Rice “only” leads him by 14 points, which is shocking giving Rice’s incumbency, fundraising advantage, and generally positive presence in the local media.

The poll was conducted June 27 and received 754 responses from registered voters in the city. The poll has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

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Associated Builders and Contractors endorse Rick Baker for St. Pete Mayor

Saint Peters Blog
June 15, 2017
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he Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is supporting Rick Baker for St. Petersburg Mayor.

“Rick Baker understands that administrative red tape hurts small business. He will fix it,” said Jason Spears, Peninsular Mechanical, in a statement Thursday.

Established in 1979, the Spears family owns Peninsular Mechanical, a 35-person small business that handles design-build air conditioning projects.

“I’m honored to have the support of the Associated Builders and Contractors Gulf Coast Chapter,” said Baker, candidate for Mayor. “I look forward to continuing our conversations with industry representatives on how to best move forward and support jobs in the construction industry and related fields throughout our region.”

“Baker has a proven history of positively working with the commercial construction industry to ensure smart growth in St. Petersburg,” said Steve Cona, ABC Florida Gulf Coast Chapter President and CEO. “He understands how free enterprise principles can bring necessary services to every neighborhood which helps create a seamless city.”

ABC is a national trade association representing 22,000 members from more than 19,000 construction and industry-related firms. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 70 chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which they work. For more information, please visit www.abcflgulf.org.

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Rick Baker says St. Petersburg’s quality of life worsened by Rick Kriseman’s spending

Tampa Bay Times
June 7, 2017
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As the final t’s were being crossed on May campaign donation figures, Rick Baker held another political fundraiser June 7 at the historic Princess Martha in downtown St. Petersburg.

The former two-term mayor spoke again of a seamless city that will unite Midtown with more prosperous neighborhoods. He promised to partner with failing city schools. He touted his practical environmentalism, highlighting his clean up of Lake Maggiore during his time as mayor between 2001 and 2010. He vowed to tackle the city’s homeless population by working with faith communities like the Catholic Church.

But what really animated Baker on Wednesday was playgrounds. He complimented Democratic council member Jim Kennedy, who endorsed the Republican former mayor, on his help in Baker’s goal to build a playground within a half-mile of every child in the city.

Playgrounds, Baker said, foster a sense of community among neighbors. By the time he had left office, Baker said, 85 percent of the city had a playground within a ½ mile of every child, including partnerships with schools, churches and neighborhood associations.

But Baker didn’t miss the opportunity to combine that warm, fuzzy image with a shot at incumbent Democratic Mayor Rick Kriseman and what he characterized as reckless spending.

“To me it’s all about quality of life,” Baker said. “Whether it’s dog parks, skate board parks, rec centers … And the trouble is, if you’re $35 million over budget on the Pier and $35 million over budget on a police station, it’s very hard to do that stuff.”

Kriseman campaign manager Jacob Smith said the mayor makes no apologies for putting money towards policing.

“St. Pete has been moving in right direction since Rick Kriseman took office,” Smith said. “Crime is down and public safety is the number one priority of a mayor. And many other initiatives such as complete streets are dedicated to making St. Petersburg an even better place to live.”

Baker criticized the police department’s decision to reorganize its street crimes and auto theft units, saying a mayor needs to be focused on public safety.

The police union has endorsed Kriseman.

Unlike previous fundraisers, most of Baker’s comments came in response to questions from about 50 supporters who gathered on the second floor lounge area of the former hotel that is now a senior living facility.

Hosted by developers Darrly LeClair and Terry McCarthy, the event drew other big name Republicans like Ambassador and fundraiser Mel Sembler, council member Ed Montanari and restaurateur Steve Westphal.

cCarthy implored the crowd to donate money to the campaign.

“We’re trying to end this thing in August,” McCarthy said, referring to the Aug. 29 primary. If neither Baker nor Kriseman get 50 percent of the vote, the race will continue on to Nov. 7.

When someone asked about yard signs, Baker’s campaign broke the news that he had officially qualified for mayor and those signs would be soon be available.

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Wengay Newton on why he’s supporting Rick Baker — and not Rick Kriseman

Saint Peters Blog
May 22, 2017
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Wengay Newton’s enthusiastic endorsement of Rick Baker in St. Petersburg’s mayoral election has surprised and upset some Pinellas County Democrats, but the veteran pol isn’t losing any sleep over the issue.

“It’s a non-partisan race,” the Democratic state Representative from District 70 said. “It has nothing to do with partisanship.”

Although the race is non-partisan, Baker is a well-known Republican, while Newton and incumbent Rick Kriseman are prominent Democrats.

Newton was one of three people who introduced Baker at his well-choreographed campaign kick-off announcement earlier this month. The former City Councilman proudly said that even though the Legislature didn’t wrap up its Session until late the previous night, he was determined to make the drive back to St. Pete to be at the event that morning.

Newton served on the St. Pete City Council from 2007 to 2015 before running for the HD 70 seat, easily defeating Republican Cori Fournier. In August, Newton also easily won in what was supposed to the more competitive Democratic primary, when he took 62 percent of vote over businessman Dan Fiorini and lawyer C.J. Czaia.

Newton endorsed Kriseman over Bill Foster in the 2013 mayoral election, but the Mayor backed Fiorini in the primary.

“I went to Kriseman for support in my House race. He told me to pound sand,” Newton said on Friday.

But Newton insists his endorsement is about who he thinks is the best man to lead St. Petersburg, not because Kriseman blew him off.

“Rick Baker is my friend for over 10 years. It’s a shame that in the areas of greatest need, they’re still taking about that here in 2017,” Newton said about the economic conditions in South St. Petersburg.

“I was born and raised in those areas. It’s a shame that nothing’s been done. Baker is the only mayor that’s got something done in Midtown.”

Team Kriseman says the Mayor has worked to improve the south side of St. Petersburg, but admits there’s more work to be done.

“Mayor Kriseman has moved South St Pete forward,” said Jacob Smith, Kriseman’s campaign manager. “The mayor worked closely with Commissioner (Ken) Welch to fund the South St Pete Community Redevelopment Association, the largest CRA in the city. The mayor also kept an important campaign promise from 2013 – reinstating park, walk, and talk, where police officers can become more connected to the neighborhoods they serve. The mayor knows that there is still work to do, but because of his record, he’s earned the support of people like School Board Member (Renee) Flowers, who endorsed Foster last time.”

“Rick Kriseman will continue working with Representative Newton to do what’s best for South St. Pete to keep moving forward,” Smith added.

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Now an official candidate, Rick Baker still leads Rick Kriseman by double-digits, new poll shows

SaintPetersBlog
May 17th, 2017
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The race for St. Petersburg mayor is heating up, with a new poll showing Republican Rick Baker has a double-digit lead over Democrat Rick Kriseman.

A new St. Pete Polls survey found Baker 46 percent of registered St. Petersburg voters said they would pick Baker in a head-to-head matchup, while 33 percent picked Kriseman. Twenty percent of voters polled said they were unsure.

The St. Pete Polls automated survey of 1,237 registered voters was conducted on May 16. The poll — conducted for FloridaPolitics.com — has a margin of error of 2.8 percent.

Baker has held a wide margin over Kriseman for months now. A St. Pete Polls survey conducted on Jan. 30 showed Baker would defeat Kriseman by 10 points — 47 percent to 37 percent. At the time, 16 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

“No matter what the polls say we will run hard to the finish,” said Baker in a statement. “I understand that I need to earn every vote and I intend to do that. My goal is, for all of us together, to build a seamless city.”

Baker received strong support from his own party, with nearly 73 percent of Republicans saying they had a favorable opinion of him. The poll found 49 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of independent voters had a favorable opinion of Baker.

The survey found nearly 61 percent of Democrats had a favorable opinion of Kriseman, while nearly 43 percent of independent voters said they had a favorable opinion of him. Republicans don’t think highly of Kriseman, with nearly more than 57 percent of Republicans saying they had an unfavorable view of Kriseman.

More than 44 percent of respondents said the city’s recent sewage issues will be a “major factor” in their decision for who they vote for in the upcoming mayoral race; while 36 percent said it will be a “minor factor.” About 15 percent of respondents said it won’t be “a factor at all.”

Baker, who announced he was running for mayor earlier this month, served as mayor from 2001 until 2010.

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