How Midtown swayed the mayoral race - FOX 13 News

How Midtown swayed the mayoral race

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No one has ever been elected or re-elected mayor of St. Petersburg without the support of the African-American community, and Tuesday's election was no exception.

Mayor Bill Foster lost that support in 2011, after he fired then-deputy mayor for Midtown redevelopment Goliath Davis.

At the time, community leaders said they expected Foster to fire Davis at some point -- their hostilities towards each other were well known.

Their real concern was what happened, or did not happen, afterwards.

"That department will be consolidated into other administrative fields," Foster told FOX 13 News in March of 2011, the same day the Reverend Manuel Sykes said "The tentative plan to combine the departments that Dr. Davis formerly supervised into other city departments is unacceptable, unstrategic and insufficient."

Urban policy analyst Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich criticized Foster's offer to pray with black ministers, calling it an attempt " divide the community. To say that, ‘well I only want to talk to the ministers' means the rest of us are insignificant." (Those comments were also made in 2011.)

Wednesday, Leftwich sat next to mayor-elect Rick Kriseman as one of the co-chairs of Kriseman's transition team. Kriseman is tapping into the same experience offered Foster.

"I've been an advisor to the President [Jimmy Carter] in urban policy, wrote the first urban policy, have been in the governor's cabinet and been deputy mayor of a city [Philadelphia]...I would expect that if [Foster] wanted to have that kind of exchange of ideas he would have asked me, and I would've come," Leftwich said, saying Foster never called.

City council chairman Karl Nurse agrees.

"The mayor lost re-election because largely Midtown-Childs Park was disappointed at how little actually happened," Nurse said, noting his largely-minority district saw a lot of attention from former Mayor Rick Baker.

Mayor Foster did have to navigate the Great Recession, which resulted in significant reductions in city spending.

"I think people understood that there was less money, but there was noticeably less effort, frankly," Nurse said.

Nurse was one of the six city council members who publicly endorsed Kriseman.

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