Foster to face four opponents in St. Pete mayoral race
The race pits Mayor Bill Foster against former councilwoman Kathleen Ford, former Democratic state lawmaker Rick Kriseman, telephone salesman Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi, who is unemployed. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
BY Christopher O'Donnell Tribune staff
Published: June 24, 2013
Updated: June 25, 2013 at 06:43 AM
ST. PETERSBURG - The race to be the city's next mayor will officially be a five-way race.
The qualification period for the Aug. 27 primary election ended Monday finalizing the lineup for what may be one of the most wide-open races to feature an incumbent mayor in recent memory.
The race pits Mayor Bill Foster against former councilwoman Kathleen Ford, former Democratic state lawmaker Rick Kriseman, telephone salesman Anthony Cates and Paul Congemi, who is unemployed. The top two candidates in the nonpartisan race will go head-to head in the November general election.
On the same ballot will be the referendum on the city's controversial Lens pier, which is expected to be a key factor in the race. The referendum could drive up voter turnout and possibly boost candidates such as Ford, who opposed to the controversial $50 million project. Ford, an attorney, last year sued the city to try and prevent the demolition of the inverted pyramid pier until after a referendum.
"The people who are opposed to the Lens project are going to turn out and vote in massive numbers," said Darryl Paulson, a retired professor of government and Florida politics at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. "Ford will be the beneficiary of that anti-Lens vote."
To qualify for the ballot, candidates submitted a raft of paperwork, including financial disclosures and an affidavit attesting that they have lived in the city for at least one year. They must also pay a state election fee of roughly $1,600 and pay either a $250 registration fee or submit a petition signed by 1,000 registered voters.
Kriseman, a former Democratic state representative, was the only mayoral candidate to qualify by petition.
Voters will also decide on four City Council seats, including two seats being vacated because of term limits.
The race for District 2 will go straight to a citywide vote in November because only one candidate, anti-Lens campaigner Lorraine Margeson, filed to challenge incumbent Jim Kennedy.
The District 4 seat being vacated by term-limited Leslie Curran will be contested by project manager Carolyn Fries, neurosurgeon David McKalip, civic activist Darden Rice and taxi driver Richard Eldridge. Many people presumed Curran might challenge Foster, but she recently announced she wouldn't run for mayor.
City Council Chairman Karl Nurse will face community activist Sharon Russ and local business owner Trevor Mallory in the primary for District 6.
Four candidates have qualified to run for term-limited Jeff Danner's District 8 seat: former St. Petersburg College professor Alex Duensing, program manager Amy Foster, library assistant Robert Davis and musician Steve Galvin.
Qualified for the Aug. 27 ballot:
Anthony Lenardo Cates - www.anthonycates.com
Paul Joseph Congemi - no website
Kathleen Sweeney Ford - www.kathleenford.com
David William "Bill" Foster -billfosterformayor.com