2016 was the worst year ever, and 2017 was the year we found our footing

By : Jeremy Williams
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In these very pages one year ago we proclaimed 2016 to be the worst year ever. It started off with so much promise and optimism, with the official passing of the torch as the former owner of Watermark turned the reins over to new owner Rick Claggett and Watermark Media became Watermark Publishing Group.

President Barack Obama was heading into the final year of his second term and everything seemed in place for another torch to be passed, that of the first black president passing the country off to the first female president.

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St. Petersburg swears in Kriseman, first female-majority City Council

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | City officials and an engaged constituency lined the halls and streets of St. Petersburg’s City Hall Jan. 2 for the official Swearing-In Ceremony of Mayor Rick Kriseman and the City Council.

The ceremony began just after 11 a.m. in the council chambers of City Hall, where new and re-elected members of City Council vowed to serve St. Petersburg. Council Members Brandi Gabbard, Gina Driscoll, Darden Rice and Amy Foster were each sworn into the council, creating St. Petersburg history in the process.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017

By : Watermark Staff
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In a year filled with many setbacks and obstacles, the LGBTQ communities in Central Florida and Tampa Bay have met those challenges with amazing resilience and resisted all forms of discrimination.

The individuals selected as Watermark’s Most Remarkable People of 2017 come from many walks of life but all share one thing in common, they all were truly exceptional this year.

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Watermark’s Most Remarkable People 2017: Darden Rice, St. Petersburg City Council Chair

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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“When I first ran in 2005, I was openly, unapologetically attacked for being gay,” Darden Rice, the first out candidate for public office in Pinellas County recalls. “But today… more and more, the public sees our issues as everyday issues that any American faces.”

That’s in part because of candidates and public officials like Rice. In November of this year, after a successful term in which she served as St. Petersburg’s City Council Chair, she garnered 72.64 percent of the vote to win her bid for re-election. That’s an impressive 41,914 votes to her opponent’s 15,786.

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League of Women Voters hold forum for St. Petersburg City Council candidates

By : Samuel Johnson
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ST. PETERSBURG | St. Petersburg City Council candidates discussed a variety of city specific issues. The overarching tone was, generally speaking, vague on details but full of amiable rhetoric. Whether it was talk on the Rays, the pier or Pride celebrations; there wasn’t any tangible fringe politicking.

The League of Women Voters organized this public event which took place in the council chambers at city hall Sept. 25. It’s the third forum following the August primaries. All six candidates were present: Barclay Harless and Brandi Gabbard of District 2, Jerick Johnston and incumbent Darden Rice of District 4, Gina Driscoll and Justin Bean of District 6.

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Council Chair Darden Rice announces she’ll undergoing breast cancer treatment

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG –St. Petersburg Council Chair Darden Rice announced in a press release Jan. 30 that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve always championed transparency and have been straightforward with my friends, family, colleagues, and constituents. You have placed your trust in me – for that reason I am disclosing a deeply personal issue in my life: I have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer,” Rice begins in her press release.

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The gloves come off as the race for District 70 gets closer

By : Jeremy Williams
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ST. PETERSBURG – The candidates are upping their attacks as the Democratic primary for District 70 gets closer.

St. Petersburg business owner, and openly gay candidate, Dan Fiorini has called Tampa Bay area lawyer CJ Czaia out for hiring Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter as a campaign consultant.

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St. Pete Pride Guide 2014

By : Jake Stevens
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This year at St Pete Pride: Mary Lambert’s message of love: The Grammy-nominated performer brings her voice to St. Pete Pride’s 27/82 concert, Mayor Rick Kriseman puts out the rainbow welcome mat, Get to know Pride’s 2014 grand marshals, Plus: Event schedule and Festival & parade maps

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Guest Column: Lessons from the Campaign Trail

By : Peggy Green
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PeggyGreenHeadshotIn November 2013, St. Petersburg residents elected Darden Rice to the City Council. It was Rice’s third campaign. The landscape had changed since her first run in 2005, when she was the first openly gay candidate to seek office in St. Pete.

Eight years later, St. Petersburg has three gay council members, had taken huge steps toward LGBT equality, and saw its annual Pride celebration swell to record-breaking numbers.

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PFLAG, Rice, Aller named Pride’s 2014 Grand Marshals

By : Steve Blanchard
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St. Petersburg – It was a packed house at Bert Smith Auto Group on April 17 as supporters of St. Pete Pride anxiously awaited the announcement of this year’s St. Pete Pride Grand Marshals. With more than 4,000 votes cast, the results are in.

St. Petersburg City Councilwoman Darden Rice, ASAP’s Jay Aller and PFLAG Tampa Bay will represent the state’s largest LGBT Pride celebration this year during its first-ever night parade.

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Remarkable Trio: St. Pete’s 3 LGBT city council members are our Remarkable People for 2013

By : Staff Report
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St. Petersburg – The Sunshine City made history in 2013 when its residents elected two more openly gay candidates to sit on its City Council. Darden Rice and Amy Foster handily won their campaigns in November in districts 4 and 8, respectively, and join sitting district 5 councilmember Steve Kornell who won his campaign back in 2009 behind the dais.

Of course, there are five other members of the St. Petersburg City Council, and those five straight elected officials are allies to the LGBT community. But having three, openly gay, seated officials is monumental for the city, and for Florida.

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Amy Foster, Darden Rice win City Council seats; Kriseman unseats Mayor Bill Foster

By : Steve Blanchard
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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.

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