St. Petersburg – And then there were three, as in three members of the LGBT community sitting on the St. Petersburg City Council. At least there will be, once Amy Foster and Darden Rice are sworn into their District 8 and District 4 seats, respectively.
The two women handily beat their opponents, with Rice getting nearly 55% of the vote to Carolyn Fries’ 45%. Fries and Rice were running to replace veteran Council member Leslie Curran, who is term-limited, in a district that includes the neighborhoods of Crescent Lake, Euclid Heights, Euclid-St. Paul’s and Meadowlawn.
Foster easily thwarted Steve Galvin with 67% of the vote to his 33%. Foster, 36, works for a Seattle-based nonprofit and campaigned on a platform of stepped-up policing. She and Galvin emerged as the top two candidates out of a four-way primary in August and she has led, both in the polls and in fundraising, for most of the election. Galvin, 55, a music producer, is also a political newcomer and made headlines in early October when he approved a Robo-call that seemed to attack Foster’s sexuality and her involvement as St. Pete Pride’s vice president. Rice and Foster join Steve Kornell, who is serving his second term on the City Council, as representatives of the LGBT community.
Incumbent councilman Karl Nurse, who serves as chairman of the St. Petersburg City Council, crushed challenger Sharon Russ, while fellow incumbent Jim Kennedy Jr. prevailed over community activist Lorraine Margeson by a considerable margin.
In the other big news in St. Petersburg politics, challenger Rick Kriseman, a former St. Petersburg City Councilman, unseated incumbent mayor Bill Foster with 56% of the vote to Bill Foster’s 45%. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that an incumbent mayor has not won re-election.
Foster seemed to take the defeat in stride during his election night watch party, however, sharing part of his concession conversation with Kriseman with his audience.
“She’s all yours,” Foster said he told Kriseman. “Don’t wreck it.”
He congratulated Kriseman on a spirited and well-run campaign and then said that he had few regrets.
“It’s been an incredible city,” Foster said. “I can say I’m leaving this city better than it was four years ago.”
Kriseman spoke from a podium at Nova 535 downtown after an enthusiastic crowd finally let him take the microphone.
“We’re all going to have to have a hand in building St. Petersburg’s future,” said Kriseman during his acceptance speech. “We can resolve the issues surrounding the pier and baseball.”
Kriseman acknowledged the wins of Amy Foster and Rice, as well as the support of four seated council members who endorsed him during the campaign.
“We can make all areas of this city, south, west, and north, as vibrant as downtown and northeast,” he said. “But we can only do it if we are united. If we move forward together, as I said on primary night, and we bring a wide range of people together to win this campaign, we must do the same to solve St. Petersburg’s problems and fulfill our potential.
“City Hall must lead by example,” he continued. “And with a progressive-minded mayor and city council, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”