St. Petersburg voters hear from 2 Ricks who want to be mayor

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — An overflow crowd waved fans to try to cool down at the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church in St. Petersburg on Tuesday night as they came to watch two Ricks participate in a mayoral forum.

Current Mayor Rick Kriseman is seeking a second term. Former Mayor Rick Baker is attempting to take back his old office for a third term.

Both men came out swinging.

“The most important decision that a mayor has is who they hire as a police chief,” Kriseman said. “I hired Tony Holloway. Mr. Baker hired Mac Vines.”

Vines was a controversial police chief who once referred to a man under arrest as an orangutan.

But Rick Baker shot back at Kriseman.

“And I guess I would remind Mayor Kriseman, I also fired Mac Vines,” he said.

The nonpartisan race is certainly clearly defined by party.

“Your party does matter because it does represent your values,” Kriseman said.

Nobody asked about the city’s ongoing sewage problems, so Baker brought it up.

“What’s laughable is he closes a sewer plant. He dumps 200 million gallons of sewage into the bay and he blames everybody on the planet” said Baker.

One woman in the audience asked about the pier.

“What’s going on with the pier? Why are we gonna waste 50 million something dollars on that hideous atrocity?” she said.

“This pier is going to add to our already incredible iconic waterfront. To our park system that we have down there,” said Kriseman.

Baker supports building a pier, just not the one planned.

“Unfortunately, what we have is something that very few people want. What you see at the end of this design is not an icon pier” he said.

Several in the audience wearing T-shirts supporting candidate Jesse Nevel asked why he and other candidates weren’t included in the forum.

The official answer is the church picked the first two to qualify. That answer got some boos.

The primary is August 29. If neither candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, voters will return to the polls on November 7.

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