Next St. Pete mayoral forums to focus on small businesses

By the time the last mayoral forum for the St. Pete primary campaign was held two weeks ago, you'd be hard pressed to find anybody but the most undiscriminating political junkie who was calling for more of them.

But with the primary election now in the dustbin of history, we turn the page to the general election campaign. That begins in earnest tonight with Rick Kriseman's fundraiser at Three Birds Tavern (1492 Fourth St. N.). And on Saturday, Mayor Bill Foster will resume canvassing neighborhoods with volunteers; they are meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Foster & Foster law office (555 Fourth St. N.).

The scheduled debates taking place in the next week and a half will coincidentally both be focused on small businesses, with the first taking place Sept. 10 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) University Student Center, and the second on Sept. 17 at NOVA 535 (535 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.).

I'm moderating the debate on the 17th, which is being produced by Keep St. Petersburg Local.

Keep St. Petersburg Local's founding board member and president Olga Bof said the event was created "to provide an opportunity for the community to get to know the candidates (post-primary) and ask questions specifically related to issues affecting small business owners, the arts and sustainability."

The forum begins at 6 p.m. with questions to the candidates (both mayoral and city council) starting at 6:30 p.m. You can submit a question for consideration to Keep St. Petersburg Local's website.

The USFSP forum begins at 5 p.m. and will be moderated by Poli Sci professor Judithanne Scourfield-McLauchlan, Ph.D., and is sponsored by the St. Pete Patch, the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, the USFSP Student Government Association, and the USFSP Bishop Center.

"We are pleased to have two of our top academic experts from business and political science participating in this important event," said Vivian Fueyo, Ph.D., interim regional vice chancellor for academic affairs. "This is another great example of the kind of community partnerships and civic engagement USF St. Petersburg values."

Seating for the Sept. 10 forum is limited, so organizers say if you want to reserve your seat go to

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