St. Pete residents head to polls to elect mayor today

Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman (left) and former mayor Rick Baker (right)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a big day at the polls in St. Petersburg. Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman is going head-to-head with former mayor Rick Baker.

Both candidates were out early Tuesday getting in some last-minute campaigning. Polls opened at 7 a.m.

Kriseman started his day at Skyway Jack’s greeting folks there. When asked what his last-minute advice was to voters he told them to think about how things could change if he is not re-elected.

“I think they need to think about, are they happy with the state and public safety in St. Pete? Do they like our police department and how it has changed? And our police chief. This election could decide who our police chief is,” Kriseman said.

While Kriseman was at Skyway Jack’s, Rick Baker began his morning in St. Pete at the corner of 22nd Ave S and MLK with his supporters waving signs at drivers encouraging them to vote.

“They want us to move forward. They don’t want to talk about national politics. Rick Kriseman’s entire campaign has been about who’s the president, national politics. I’m talking about the city. We need to fix some of the backwards movement he’s made on our sewer system, our pier, our midtown system, our school,” said Baker.

There are three main issues in the race– continuing issues with the sewer system, the Tampa Bay Rays location and the St. Pete Pier.

Baker continues to say the mayor mishandled sewer problems.

“The Fish and Wildlife Commission recommended 89 felony charges for the actions of the Kriseman administration for dumping sewage into our Bay,” said Baker.

Baker also said Kriseman has failed to secure a deal with the Rays to stay in St. Pete.

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“We’re learning because of Rick Kriseman’s decision to let the Rays partially out of their contract, they very much likely may be going to Tampa,” he said.

Kriseman wants to continue with plans to open The Pier in late 2018 or early 2019. However, Baker claims Kriseman’s plans are watered down and not what the public actually wants. Baker has more elaborate plans for The Pier that include playgrounds and sitting areas.

Kriseman said Baker, a Trump supporter, has not once condemned any of the president’s divisive and dangerous tweets.

He said Baker would take the progress the city has made backwards.

“Do we simply want to tolerate diversity or do we want to celebrate diversity? Do we want to continue on creating jobs and bring people out of poverty and having a safe community with Chief Holloway as our police chief or do you want to go back to a time where the number of complaints against our police officers were high,” said Kriseman.

Campaign ads were also a topic of controversy.

Both tell us they ultimately want job creation and to grow the economy.

“I want them to know my first priority is how do we improve the quality of life that we have in this city,” said Baker.

“I try and talk about what I want to do going forward every chance I get. It isn’t just about what you’ve done in the past, it’s about what you want to do going forward,” Kriseman said.

Polls close Tuesday at 7 a.m.

Be sure to check election results on the WFLA news app and on WFLA TV. You can download the app here.

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