Friday, January 4, 2013

A Casual Conversation with Rick Kriseman

Rick Kriseman began his political career when he was appointed to the St. Petersburg City Council in 2000. He won reelection in 2001 and 2003 before stepping down in 2006 to run for the State House of Representatives.
I had the pleasure of being on City staff during the time Rick served on City Council. He was a dedicated and focused City Councilman.
Kriseman decided not to run for a fourth term in the State Legislature in April of 2012, and that further fueled rumors that he might make a run at the St. Pete Mayors' slot.
Rick and I sat down this past week at the Kahwa Coffee Shop south for some great coffee and a casual conversation.
Like most of the people seriously considering a run for the St. Mayors’ spot, Rick Kriseman is fully aware of the City’s problems and opportunities.
For someone who just finished a 6 year stint in Tallahassee Rick looks great. Currently practicing law at Lucas, Green and Magazine in Clearwater, Rick gets into political mode quick.
His answer to my first question: "where do you think the City is", was quick and decisive.
"I don’t know where we are going. It’s like a car stuck in neutral", Rick said.
“What do you see as major issues”, I asked?
“Beyond the Pier and the Rays, I think the age of City staff is a critical issue”. "I am concerned about the ongoing decline in institutional knowledge and the lack of a transition plan”, Rick responded.
“Are you ready to be the CEO of a nearly 500 million dollar a year business" I asked?
"Absolutely” Rick Replied!
"How would you govern differently than the current administration”, I asked?
“The best leaders are those who recognize their shortcomings and surround themselves with people who compensate for those short comings", Rick replied.
"I would govern differently by offering a clear vision for the future, by being bold and proposing initiatives that move St. Pete forward, by solving problems instead of kicking the can down the road".
"I would work every angle I could with my friends in the Obama Administration to bring federal dollars home".
"My frustration with Tallahassee was: that good policy doesn't advance because of partisan politics. Local government is the place where we can actually accomplish things and where every resident can be invested in and take pride in our accomplishments." Rick replied
“What would you do differently than the current administration”, I asked.
 “I would have better communication with both staff and Council. It seems the staff has no firm direction, they don’t know where the City is headed”, Rick replied.
“What do you think the major tenants of good municipal administration are”, I asked?
Infrastructure, quality of life and education”, Rick replied. “I don’t think we have taken the fullest advantage of our opportunities the last few years”. 
Rick also expressed deep concerns about the crime level in St. Pete and especially the South side of town.
I asked Rick about how his wife and family felt about a Mayoral run and he said, "We haven't really had the serious discussion yet", but they will be fully on board before I make a decision to run".
We covered a wide range of subjects from the Pier to the Rays and Rick’s concern about the City’s aging infrastructure, he has a good grasp of the issues and ideas about how to address them all, but he can reveal those for you if and when he decides to run for Mayor.
I did ask the big question, “are you going to run”? His answer: “I’ll know in a few weeks.”
If your following the St. Pete Mayor's race ,you might find the following Posts interesting: A Casual Conversation with Rick Baker, A Casual Conversation with Herb Polson, Is Rick Baker Really Out of The Mayor's Race 

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