In Their Words: 3 Things Each Candidate Will Do to Make Life Better for African Americans in St. Petersburg

By Jeffery Peaten, III

Tomorrow’s primary is just hours away. Three seats for St. Petersburg City Council are on the ballot tomorrow, not to mention nine candidates vying to be the next mayor. Depending on your district, you may have more than one elected position to consider when casting your vote. 

TheBurgVotes team asked each candidate to provide three specific actions, programs, or policies that they will push – if elected – that will make life measurably and meaningfully better for St. Petersburg’s African Americans community. 

For those who missed it, or if you have not quite determined who to vote for, here is a rundown of each candidate’s response (in their own words). 

Candidates for Mayor

 Robert Blackmon

  1. Move the City Municipal Services Center to the Tangerine Plaza, and invest the savings this will generate in a community redevelopment fund for Midtown entrepreneurs;
  2. Complete the restoration of the Science Center of Pinellas County, as a foundation for investment in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education for underrepresented communities, especially communities of color; and
  3. A new city program to replace investment in affordable housing construction with direct purchases of housing which will then be sold at cost to citizens under 80% area medium income.

 Pete Boland

  1. End the “war on drugs” by advocating for a shift from current draconian drug policy to a non-criminal approach, as opposed to blanket arrests police officer discretion; 
  2. Create partnerships with struggling schools and neighborhoods with the private sector; and
  3. Provide universal broadband access to provide basic internet to every home in St. Petersburg. 

 Michael Ingram

  1. Bring business, jobs and a better life for the people who lived in the Gas Plant District, including affordable housing and affordable locations for businesses in conjunction with the Tropicana field redevelopment, and ensuring that it is an area accessible to African American families and African American businesses;
  2. Address the food desert in St. Petersburg to ensure access to quality, healthy food in every neighborhood and at various public transport centers so people do not have to travel to get quality food for their families; and
  3. Work to create ironclad accountability in the St. Petersburg Police Department to improve trust and communication between the community and law enforcement, improving safety for both, bodycams, dash cams, and an independent city organization to investigate complaints against officers.

 Wengay Newton

  1. $3 Million for summer and after-school jobs;
  2. $2 Million for youth programs; and
  3. Partner with our education ecosystem to create STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) dual enrollment apprenticeship programs and skills upgrade certificate programs for adults.

Marcile Powers

  1. Create programs to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to gas stations;
  2. The legalization of marijuana for recreational use; and
  3. Youth programs with local artists to help inspire the kids and support local artist financially.

Darden Rice

  1. Creation of a universal pre-k program, and provide free two-year college and technical training programs to local students;
  2. Work with the St. Petersburg City Council to expand the Community Assistance and Life Liaison Program to increase the number of social workers who answer non-criminal, non-violent calls for assistance; and
  3. Ensure the city does a better job of listening to and communicating with all of our residents, particularly those who have been underrepresented and underserved, and working with the community to create a high-level Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Ken Welch

  1. Affordable Housing; 
  2. Using smart and innovative growth principles that proactively address future problems as part of the Tropicana Field Redevelopment process;
  3. Implementation of an Opportunity Agenda – a strategic model of policies, services, programs, and projects focused on providing expanded opportunities for community uplift, jobs and economic opportunity, youth empowerment, and shared progress; and
  4. Neighborhood safety and a healthy community with access to nutritious foods, exercise options, and healthcare.
Click here to see the full BurgVotes profile provided by each mayoral candidate. 

City Council Candidates

City Council District 1

Ed Carlson

  1. Make parks, lakes and recreation centers are a top priority for the city; 
  2. Provide funding and support of youth recreation and sports activities; and
  3. Create youth community services projects to help keep African American neighborhoods healthy.

Copley Gerdes

  1. Create quality, affordable, multi-family developments, incentivized by encouraging mixed-use space that includes affordable housing; 
  2. Expansion of public transportation options to connect all the city’s neighborhoods with fast reliable transit options; and
  3. City support for neighborhood associations, community organizations, and non-profits to preserve the unique character of St. Petersburg. 
District 1 candidates John Horbeck and Bobbie Shay Lee did not submit a profile to

City Council District 4

Lisset Hanewicz

  1. Navigate changes to the city’s comprehensive plan and land development regulations, in conjunction with Vision 2050, finding innovative ways to provide affordable housing;
  2. Increased public safety; and 
  3. Bridge the education gap with equitable economic and education opportunities in all neighborhoods and communities.

Clifford Hobbs III

  1. Reignite the cities Ambassadors Club to provide mentorship, support, and love to St. Petersburg’s African American youth; 
  2. Provide more mental health programs for residents; and  
  3. Work to bridge St. Petersburg’s racial divide and champion city events that bring communities together.
District 4 candidates Tom Mullins, Doug O’Dowd, and Jarib Figueredo did not submit a profile to

City Council District 8

Jeff Danner

  1. Accessibility to all programs St. Petersburg offers its residents; 
  2. Ensure the opportunity to live out life in your home through affordable housing programs; and
  3. Ensure residents benefit from property value increases and the generational wealth it can provide to residents.

Richie Floyd

  1. Promote investment in working class and African American neighborhoods, jobs, and infrastructure in conjunction with the city’s budget process; 
  2. Use the Tropicana Field Redevelopment plan as an opportunity to correct injustices of the past by ensuring affordable housing and jobs in the area; and 
  3. Propose and support city ordinances to eliminate unequal and unjust outcomes based on race.

Dane Kuplicki

  1. Use of St. Petersburg’s Community Benefits Agreement to ensure growth of African American businesses, strengthen neighborhoods, and ensure long-term sustainability in the determination process;
  2. Invest in childhood literacy programs; and 
  3. Ensure that the St. Petersburg Police Department is reformed and trained to better serve the city’s African American community.

Jamie Mayo

  1. Advocate for the city’s youth; 
  2. Address the food desert in St. Petersburg; and  
  3. Creation of a “hub” to aide residents with finding affordable housing. 
Click here to see the full BurgVotes profile provided by each candidate.

There you have it. Our hope is that this rundown helps those, like me, that sometimes struggle to decide who to back for office. And remember…. Exercise your right to vote!  This primary election comes to a close on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 at 7 pm. 




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