Friday, July 30, 2021

Saint Petersburg Does Not Need a Career Politician as Its Next Mayor

WEST COAST        
Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Below, is a list of those people who have formally announced their endorsement for former county Commissioner Ken Welch for the office of Mayor of St. Petersburg Florida.

  • Charlie Crist, U.S. Congressman
  • Jim Davis, Former U.S. Congressman
  • Arthenia Joyner, Former State Senator
  • Rene Flowers, Pinellas County Commissioner
  • Pat Gerard, Pinellas County Commissioner
  • Charlie Justice, Pinellas County Commissioner
  • Janet Long, Pinellas County Commissioner
  • Karen Seel, Pinellas County Commissioner
  • Les Miller, Former Hillsborough Commission Chair and State Senator
  • Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Sheriff
  • Jim Coats, Former Pinellas County Sheriff
  • Bob Stewart, Former Pinellas County Commissioner and former City Councilmember
  • Ken Burke, Pinellas County Clerk
  • Deborah Clark, Former Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections
  • Pam Dubov, Former Pinellas County Property Appraiser
  • Sandra Bradbury, Mayor of Pinellas Park
  • Julie Bujalski, Mayor of Dunedin
  • Sam Henderson, Mayor of Gulfport
  • Frank Hibbard, Mayor of Clearwater
  • Bob Buckhorn, Former Mayor of Tampa
  • Deborah Figgs-Sanders, St. Petersburg City Council
  • Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, St. Petersburg City Council
  • Amy Foster, St. Petersburg City Council
  • Charlie Gerdes, Former St. Petersburg City Council
  • Connie Kone, Former St. Petersburg City Council
  • Richard Butler, Pinellas Park City Council
  • Michael Fridovich, City of Gulfport City Council
  • James Oliver, City of Seminole City Council
  • Ward Frizolowski, St. Petersburg Beach City Council
  • Irene Sullivan, Judge (Ret.) and Juvenile Justice Advocate
  • Dave Aronberg, Palm Beach County State Attorney
  • Ben Crump, Civil Rights Attorney
  • Sean Shaw, Attorney and Founder of People Over Profits
  • Bob Dillinger, Pinellas County/Pasco County Public Defender (Ret.)
  • Leon Jackson, Civil Rights Pioneer, Member of “The Courageous 12” and St. Petersburg Police Officer (Ret.)
  • Iman Abdul Ali, Tampa Bay Area Muslim Association
  • Pastor Louis Murphy, Mt. Zion Progressive MBC
  • Pastor J.C. Pritchett, IMA Chair, St Petersburg
  • Pastor Robert Ward, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church
  • Pastor Clarence Williams, Greater Mt. Zion AME
  • Pastor Andy Oliver, Allendale United Methodist Church
  • Rev. Dr. Manual Sykes, Manuel L. Sykes Ministries, Inc.
  • Gwendolyn Reese, CEO, African American Heritage Association
  • LJ Murphy, Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Head Football Coach at Gibbs High School
  • Bob Devin Jones, Studio@620 Founder and Artistic Director
  • Elihu & Carolyn Brayboy, Owners, Chief Creole CafĂ© and Community Developers
  • Susan Churuti, Attorney and St. Petersburg Business Owner
  • Scott Wagman, St. Petersburg Business Leader, Philanthropist and Community Activist
  • Carla Bristol, Youth Advocate and Community Activist, Urban Youth Farms
  • Eric Lynn, Former National Security Advisor 
  • Martha Lenderman, Mental Health Services Advocate
  • Vince and Robin Cocks, Community Leaders, St. Petersburg
  • Ricardo Davis, Chair, Education Advocate
  • Stephanie Owens, Vice Chair, St. Petersburg Housing Authority

There is no doubt, that Ken Welch is a dedicated politician and public servant. He spent 20 years or so serving as a member of the Pinellas County Board of County commissioners and has been active in Pinellas County politics for every one of those 20-years.

In fact, the hardest problem in dealing with Ken Welch has been to get him to honor Pinellas County's term limits, which went into effect years ago, and he has continued to ignore like a number of his Commission contemporaries.

So, it's tough to argue that Ken Welch is not the consummate politician.

The question is, can Ken Welch shed the professional politician role and turn into the leader/manager of a nearly 2500 employee public business.

Just because you can get votes, or endorsements from political cronies does not mean that you have the consummate skills to lead an organization that is as large, diverse, and complex as the city of Saint Petersburg.

In addition, St. Pete has had a mayor for the last eight years that struggles to look past 34th Street to the West and North across 18th Avenue to see the rest of the City and its needs.

If you really look at Ken Welch’s political rhetoric in this mayoral campaign, what you see is a careful pandering to the needs of select and oftentimes very loud groups in Saint Petersburg, but with no clear eye to serving those who sit quietly by year after year in northeast, northwest and southwest Saint Petersburg paying their property taxes and waiting for the city to recognize that they exist.

Saint Petersburg needs a Mayor, who can see all the way across town, from Tampa Bay to the gulf beaches. I think Robert Blackman is the right man for the job.

From the Blackmon Campaign Web site:” I’m Robert Blackmon, and I think St. Petersburg needs a fresh start and a new face leading our city as mayor. I’m a small business owner, and I’ve served as a City Council member. With experience both in the private sector and as an elected official, I know we can make local government work to better serve our community. I’m not a career politician, and I want to make St. Pete a shining city on a hill.”

Oh, about all those political endorsements. Generally speaking, elected politicians endorse formally elected politicians who are currently running for their old office or a new office in a quid pro quo to ensure that when they run for office or reelection, they get the endorsement they need.

Before you start putting too much stock in these political endorsements check some of these people out and see just how well they're doing.

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