St. Petersburg, FLOpinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog
The latest Charter amendment proposal by St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is being touted as a way to improve representation from the various City Council districts. The theory seems to be that if Council people are elected solely in their District not City wide as is now the case, they will somehow be more responsive to their home District.
What that theory ignores is the District selects the citywide ballot candidates in a primary election where voters only vote for Council candidates running in the District. The citywide election selects from the two best or favorite candidates the District puts up.
This process has worked well for St. Petersburg for 2 decades.
The recent Editorial in the Tampa Bay Times: Don't Tinker with St. Petersburg council elections lays out the case for turning down this Charter change.
Using the "better representation" sham and some not too clear election cost savings, the Kriseman administration proposes to turn the St. Petersburg political process into something that would resemble Chicago Ward politics.
What I don't hear is an outcry from the Districts or the neighborhoods indicating they feel they are not well represented.
This is more of a Mayoral power grab and a way to muscle around City Council than it is a legitimate way to improve the St. Petersburg electoral or political process.
So far, and to the surprise of many, since the strong Mayor Charter change in 1992, there has been no corruption detected among St. Pete elected officials. This Charter change opens the door for or all sorts of wheeling and dealing from the Mayor's office.
The Kriseman administration would like to get more control over the City Council and be able to encourage infighting among the members.
Next will likely be proposals to eliminate term limits on the Mayor or extend the Mayor's term to six years.
Kriseman is continuing to reinforce the position he is all about politics and very little about leadership. St. Petersburg does not need a government staffed by political cronies and a City Council managed by dealing out favors.
Right now there is very little political retribution the "Office of the Mayor" can take with Council members who disagree with his position and it needs to stay that way.
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