Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Serious Conversation with Rick Kriseman Part I

Before you read this you may want to read my original Casual Conversation With Rick Kriseman  I had with Rick before he announced he was running for Mayor.

This time I sat down Saturday morning at Starbucks out on the West side of town with Rick Kriseman and his campaign manager Cesar Fernandez.

To win over Kathleen Ford supporters, Kriseman needs to deal with these 6 major issues.

1. Outside campaign financing
2. Red Light Cameras
3. Neighborhoods
4. South St. Pete
5. The Pier
6. Public Safety

I'll cover the first three in this Post.

Kriseman looks good. He says he has lost 16 pounds since the race started, but quickly added he won't recommend politics as a weight loss method.

Outside campaign financing

The conversation turned serious quickly when I brought up the question of all of the out of town money that has poured into the Kriseman campaign including a lot of support from the State Democratic Party. Kriseman is unapologetic about the support he is getting both locally, from friends and the State Democratic Party.

He did make a good point that many of the out of town contributions are from friends he made in Tallahassee over the six years he was in the legislature. His point being that people in the Tallahassee political circle tend to support their friends when they run for any office and often the only expectation is similar support for the friend should the occasion arise.

On the issue of the State Democratic Party support, the subject of a blistering e-mail blast by the Republican candidate Bill Foster, Kriseman was less forth coming. 

This whole issue of State Party support may become moot if the State Republican Party heeds the call of State Senator Jack Latvala and jumps into the Foster campaign with any serious support. At that point we just have a partisan mayors' race where a lot of money will be spent. The challenge will be that the citizen's interest don't get lost in the politics.

Red Light Cameras

One of my big issues, and a lot of Ford supporters, is Kriseman's stand on red light Cameras. Ford was adamant they must go. Foster wants to keep them, I genuinely believe because of the revenue rather than the safety issues.
Kriseman has been in both camps through the primary. He likes them for the safety issue, but is not fond of them as revenue generators. The growing body of data and research does not support red light cameras as a safety success and more and more jurisdictions are pulling them out.

In our conversation, Rick listen to the argument but offered no change in position. With several City Council candidates running on a no red light camera position, Kriseman is risking alienating some Ford supporters and others on this hot button issue.


Kriseman's view of the neighborhoods remains solid. Like Ford, he would see the neighborhoods role reemphasized. Kriseman's pledge to "encourage effective and influential neighborhood associations" is real. On this issue Ford supporters and all voters can rest assured neighborhoods will be a vital part of the Kriseman administration and they will have a voice at the table.

My Thoughts

I like Rick Kriseman for Mayor of St. Petersburg.

I am not necessarily one of those "anybody but Foster" folks, I have worked with both of these men.

Kriseman can re-energize staff by providing leadership and confidence. His views on neighborhoods, South St. Pete and the Pier are solid as you will see in Part II of our conversation.

The Rays will find someone in Kriseman they can talk to and trust. The interchange about baseball between Kriseman and Bob Buckhorn, would certainly be more interesting to watch than the current sparing match between St. Pete and Tampa.

It is probably accurate that Kathleen Ford's supporters hold the key to this election. As a Ford supporter I think I know what our issues are, and I will be following the campaign from that perspective.

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Campaign Disclosures: Contributor to Kathleen Ford Campaign, Darden Rice Campaign, Concern Citizens of St. Petersburg, Rick Kriseman for Mayor.

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