Candidates trade barbs at St. Pete mayoral debate - FOX 13 News

Candidates trade barbs at St. Pete mayoral debate

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

The "chicken man" resurfaced at a St. Petersburg mayoral candidate forum for the second time in as many days. He waved a sign criticizing the absence of mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford, then ducked out the same side door he had entered, disappearing in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club's parking garage.

Both of the mayoral candidates present at the time disavowed any knowledge of the big yellow intruder.

"Not a clue," former city councilman Rick Kriseman responded when asked if he knew chicken man's identity.

"I'm a little taken aback by the continued showing of the chicken," incumbent Mayor Bill Foster said. "That's a bit distracting and doesn't need to play a role."

Candidate Ford called FOX 13 News while driving back from Brooksville, where she said she had a prior commitment with a client. Ford said she was at a different candidate forum when the chicken popped up Tuesday night at a debate between Foster and Kriseman.

She denied she is trying to avoid Foster and Kriseman, adding she will share the podium with them at several upcoming events.

On more serious subjects, Mayor Foster told the Tiger Bay Club he has addressed several major challenges, touching on issues such as homelessness, economic development and customer service.

"I'm the only candidate that has any executive experience at all," Foster said in his closing comments. "You've invested in my three and a half years of practice."

Kriseman targeted a lack of economic development in Midtown and commented on Foster's recent rollout of several initiatives.

"If every year was an election year I think we probably would be in a lot better shape today than we are," Kriseman said. "The two big issues that he inherited, which are the Pier and the Rays, remain unsolved and it's been almost four years."

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