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Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018
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St. Pete mayor's swearing-in opened to public

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman's predecessors took their oath of office within the stuffy confines of City Hall.

But in keeping with his campaign pledge to run St. Petersburg more like a big city, Kriseman is taking his swearing-in ceremony to the streets and adding a little pizzazz to the usually staid event.

The ceremony on Thursday, around 12:45 p.m., will be outside City Hall, with a stretch of Fifth Street North closed to traffic to accommodate a grandstand with seating for more than 200 people. Local arts organizer Bob Devin Jones will act as master of ceremonies and the event will include a performance from the St. Petersburg Community Choir.

“He felt it was important to have a day of celebration not just for his swearing in but for the whole city,” said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's new communications director. “It's a new day for the city, a new vision for the city. He wanted to make that as accessible for as many of the pubic as possible.”

The bigger celebration does not come with a bigger price tag, Kirby said.

The grandstand and PA systems are already owned by the city and bunting has been loaned to the city by the Tampa Bay Rays. The 15 officers policing the event have been redeployed from existing downtown patrols. Staff from the city's marketing and parks and recreation departments will also work the event.

The only direct costs will be $150 spent to print roughly 500 programs and the cost of light refreshments that will be served on the north lawn outside City Hall after the event, Kirby said.

Making the largely procedural event more high profile is another example of Kriseman's campaign promise that St. Petersburg should be run less like a small town and more like Florida's fourth largest city.

That has included assembling an executive office of eight administrators, including a deputy mayor, chief of staff and communications director.

He also shuffled some staff at city hall with some top administrators, including City Administrator Tish Elston departing.

The most recent of those came Monday when he promoted Sherry McBee to be administrator of Leisure Services, replacing longtime city employee Clarence Scott, who stepped down in a move that Kriseman described as a “mutual” decision. Kriseman also appointed Michael Jefferis to director of the Parks and Recreation Department. Salaries for his new hires will total more than $750,000 and were not part of Foster's 2014 budget. The money will come from a city contingency fund and savings from the expected retirement of senior city staff.

Thursday's swearing-in ceremony will be preceded by two City Council meetings. The first at 11 a.m. will include a presentation of plaques to Foster and term-limited city council members Jeff Danner and Leslie Curran.

The second at noon will include the swearing in of newly elected members Amy Foster Darden Rice and returning members Karl Nurse and Jim Kennedy. Bill Dudley and Steve Kornell also will be sworn in as council chairman and vice chairman respectively.

Fifth street north will be closed to traffic outside City Hall from 7 a.m. Overflow parking for the event is at The Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.

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