St. Petersburg voters reject the Lens - FOX 13 News

St. Petersburg voters reject the Lens

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Four years and about $4 million later, the Lens is dead. St. Petersburg voters overwhelmingly cast ballots to fire the architect.

With all precincts reporting, 63.22 percent voted "YES" to terminate the contract to build the Lens; 36.78 percent voted "NO."

In the mayoral race, Mayor Bill Foster garnered 40.63 percent of the vote, falling short of the majority he would have needed to win the race outright. Now he and Rick Kriseman, who got 38.90 percent of the vote, will face off in the general election on November 5th.

"We've got nine more weeks. We're absolutely up for it...we'll be able to talk real issues and real vision," Foster said.

"There really hasn't been a whole lot accomplished. We've only seen a lot of action from the mayor in the last 6 to 8 months since this election got kicked off," Kriseman said.

Voter turnout was at 31.35 percent. In 2009 – the last election involving the race for a mayor's seat – about 23 percent of voters total cast ballots.


A last-ditch effort to save the Lens fell far short, leaving only a hope of salvaging something, at some point.

"We're going to be paying attention, we're going to be plugged in, we're going to do what we can to be in those rooms when its being figured out," said Jesse Landis, with Build the Pier, a last-minute political action committee set up to push the Lens.

But at a joyous "Stoppers" party, those who petitioned for a referendum to stop the Lens rolled out an online polling tool. It is in large part a demonstration of technology.

"It might be the same thing as voting for American Idol, that type of thing. But it is a pretty simple way for the city to get input," said Matt Florell, with "We're planning on keeping this going for a couple of weeks. We want to keep it going so the 8-28 Alliance can see it."

That alliance is the task force advising city officials on how to move forward. It already has better public input at the top of its suggestions.

And with nearly one third of the city's voters taking part today, it is clear the public wants to be part of creating a next-generation downtown pier.


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