Race for St. Pete Council seat Karl Nurse is vacating now has eight contenders...and counting?

James Scott, who launched his campaign for St. Pete City Council on Tuesday.
James Scott, who launched his campaign for St. Pete City Council on Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, candidate number eight officially jumped into the race for St. Petersburg's City Council District 6 seat, which represents parts of the downtown and south side.

James Scott, a graduate student and environmental activist, announced his candidacy on the steps of City Hall, where he was flanked by a handful of supporters.

Scott and the seven other candidates are in the running for the seat Councilman Karl Nurse is vacating due to term limits. It's unclear why the race is so crowded, other than the fact that it's an open seat in a fairly diverse district that favors Democrats, and while the race has some familiar names, there's no clear frontrunner.

The district encompasses the predominantly African American Midtown neighborhood, much of downtown and the southern tip of the well-to-do Old Northeast neighborhood.

The other candidates in the running are Justin Bean, Eritha "Akile" Cainion, Corey Givens, Jr., James Jackson, John Johnson, Sharon Russ and Maria Scruggs. All have been active in the district in one way or another, albeit in a wide range of capacities. Russ is an outspoken tough-on-crime Republican, for example, while Scruggs is president of the local chapter of the NAACP. Cainion, meanwhile, is active with a the controversial Uhuru group.

With the deadline for filing to run for the seat some two months out, it's very possible even more people will jump in, which makes for an uncommonly crowded ballot in August, when the city's voters can take their first crack at the local elections.

Unless one of the candidates gets more than 50 percent of the vote in August — not likely when you have eight-plus people in the mix, there will be a runoff in November.

Also on the ballot will be candidates for mayor, including incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challengers Anthony Cates, Paul Congemi III and Jesse Nevel. That list probably isn't complete, either, with former Mayor Rick Baker said to still be toying with the idea of a run.

Council Districts 2 and 4 will also be on the ballot. 

Newcomers Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless are vying for the open District 2 seat, which covers the city's northeastern reaches. Councilman Jim Kennedy is leaving that seat due to term limits.

Council Chair Darden Rice is the District 4 incumbent, and she's being challenged by newcomer Jerick Johnston for the north-of-downtown seat.

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