St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman laid out a plan Thursday morning for replacing the St. Petersburg Pier, and was almost immediately upstaged by his incumbent opponent, Mayor Bill Foster.
At a news conference, Kriseman stated he wants to "Stop the Lens," the proposed replacement Pier that is now subject to an August 27th referendum.
The former city councilman and state lawmaker also said that if elected mayor in November he would assemble a task force to quickly launch a new design process.
"Though I have consistently expressed concerns with the Lens design, and support a referendum on the ballot, it's not my nature and it's not leadership to be against something without offering a way forward," Kriseman said.
Mayor Bill Foster has already initiated a very similar plan. Foster refers to it as the "8/28 Alliance," a reference to the day after the referendum.
"On August 28th, we're going to stand on the city hall steps and raise our glasses," Foster told FOX 13 News., "If the Lens passes, we all agree to stand on the steps of city hall, raise our glasses and toast the construction of the new Pier."
And if voters reject the Lens?
"You have a design and selection process in place where we can move forward," Foster responded. "We're either building the Lens, or we're already starting that process to build the new Pier, whatever it looks like."
The mayor's vision assumes those who oppose the Lens and those who support it will participate.
Other invited members include the marine research community's Ocean Team, the Chamber of Commerce, the co-chairman of the former Pier Task Force, the Downtown Partnership and the Council of Neighborhood Associations.
"Let's take advantage of the momentum. Everyone now has an opinion," Foster said. "For the next two months, that's what everyone's going to talk about. So let's take advantage of that and let's bring all of these people together."
The mayor specifically invited Bud Risser to take part. The businessman has been the heaviest contributor to two petition drives calling for votes on the Pier, most recently the Stop the Lens movement that forced the August referendum.
In a telephone interview, Risser told FOX 13 News he "wants his life back" and will decline the invitation. However, Risser agrees in principal with Foster's suggestion. He said other board members of the Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg political action committee have not had an opportunity to discuss whether to participate.
Mayoral challenger Kriseman and incumbent Foster also agree on the fate the existing St. Petersburg Pier. Neither thinks it should be renovated. The race's third candidate, former city council member Kathleen Ford, disagrees. She thinks voters should decide whether the current Pier should be saved.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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