Charlie Gerdes & Bob Kersteen advance in St. Pete City Council District 1 race

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CL spoke Tuesday night with Josh Shulman, who fell 212 votes short of qualifying for the runoff against Gerdes. He agreed with the theory that Bob Kersteen bested him mainly because of name recognition (Kersteen is a former Council member who has ran several times in the past), though undoubtedly Kersteen's previous experience was a positive factor for some voters.

"i think i was looking at the breakdown of absentee ballots vs. poll voting, and at the polls I beat Bob, so it really came down to absentee ballots, 75 percent of which were decided on before the first debate," he said.

At 35, Shulman obviously is young enough to run again, and he impressed many people on the campaign trail who met him in his first go round for an elected office. But he's reluctant to commit to another race right now - he says he's not in it to have a political career, but only entered this particular race at this particular time because he thought his skills (he's a financial planner) were appropriate for the situation the city finds itself in.

He also said that the learning curve in his initial electoral run was "pretty steep."

"Having a good solid organization around you is vital in order to be successful. Really, what I take away is the interactions I've had with people along the way."

Shulman predicts that Gerdes will easily defeat Kersteen in the November 1 general election, and at this juncture it would be hard to argue that observation. Kersteen told CL that he believed if he made it into the runoff, he would be endorsed by Mayor Bill Foster.

Gerdes was endorsed by the man who beat him in the race for the state House in District 53 in 2006, Rick Kriseman, who previously represented District 1 on the Council.

After a campaign that lasted for months and saw thousands of dollars spent, all last night's St. Pete City Council race in District 1 settled between Charlie Gerdes, Bob Kersteen and Josh Shulman, is that the race now is just between Charlie Gerdes and Bob Kersteen.

In an election in which less than 3,000 people participated (2,864 to be precise), the results were not surprising to close observers. The well-established Gerdes easily took the highest percentage of votes with 52 percent, Kersteen qualified for the general election run-off by garnering 28 percent, while Shulman took 20 percent.

The question that some citizens in St. Pete might have today is, why have a run-off when one candidate has already taken a majority of the vote in a primary? We'll have more on that in a subsequent post.

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