Kriseman previews his administration - FOX 13 News

Kriseman previews his administration

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St. Petersburg mayor-elect Rick Kriseman wants office space for a transition team before he takes office.

"I'm not talking about using taxpayer dollars, so let me be clear on that," Kriseman told reporters 14 hours after defeating incumbent Mayor Bill Foster, suggesting that private donations might pay for what he has in mind.

After taking office, Kriseman said he wants to add a chief-of-staff and a communications director to the mayor's staff. Those positions do not exist right now, so they are not in the current city budget.

There is a city administrator who oversees day-to-day operations of the city apparatus, but a chief of staff is different.

"The chief of staff is really the one who works directly with me versus the city administrator who I see being more of the contact person with city staff," Kriseman explained.

Kriseman was flanked at his news conference by transition team co-chairs Andrew Hayes and Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich.

Hayes is a local architect with a long list of civic and industry group positions. Leftwich is an author and scholar in urban planning with credentials dating back to former President Jimmy Carter's administration.

"I'm extremely impressed with their intellect," Kriseman said. "I want to surround myself with really competent, qualified people."

In the near future, Hayes and Leftwich will help Kriseman decide what city managers stay, or go. The mayor-elect said he will meet with those staffers between now and January 2nd, when he officially takes office.

Until then, "I want to make it very clear that Bill Foster is the mayor of the city of St. Petersburg, he is the mayor until I'm sworn in and I do not intend on doing anything to interfere with his ability to govern," Kriseman said.

On other subjects, Kriseman said he will reach out to the owner of the Tampa Bay Rays for a get-acquainted meeting. Negotiations with the team over future baseball stadium issues is probably the highest-dollar item on the next mayor's horizon.

Kriseman also said he wants to consider re-opening the outside areas of the now closed St. Pete Pier, and work with Foster on selecting a new police chief.

Chief Chuck Harmon retires within days of Kriseman's inauguration, and technically, Foster could hire a new police chief.

Realistically though, "I wouldn't want to be that person, because if it's somebody I wouldn't necessarily have selected, it puts their job at risk before they get started," Kriseman pointed out.

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