Rick Kriseman names Nikki Gaskin-Capehart to serve as his Director of Urban Affairs

Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman talked a lot during the campaign about how important it was to St. Petersburg's future for the area south of Central Avenue to prosper as much as other parts of the city have in recent years. His commitment to honoring that campaign pledge got another shot in the arm this morning with his announcement that Nikki Gaskin-Capehart will serve as his director of urban affairs.

Gaskin-Capehart is a St. Pete native with previous political experience. Most recently she served as the director of communications and external affairs for the Pinellas County Urban League. Prior to that she worked in Pinellas County for Kathy Castor and before that Jim Davis, when he represented South St. Pete in Congress.

"There is no better person to serve as St. Petersburg’s Director of Urban Affairs than Nikki Gaskin-­Capehart. She is a natural problem­ solver with extensive experience assisting the residents and small business owners of South St. Petersburg,” Kriseman said in a press release.

Kriseman's first major hire was Dr. Kanika Tomalin as deputy mayor. She said today that "Nikki's commitment to our community's progress is evident, surpassed only by her deep connections and lifetime of service. That commitment will accelerate our administration's efforts to engineer opportunities that yield significant benefits for the Midtown area. And, every avenue of our community will be better for it."

Kriseman says that Gaskin-Capehart will report directly to him and serve as his liaison to neighborhoods and small businesses in Midtown, a job that sounds like what Goliath Davis was doing until he was sacked by Bill Foster early in 2011. Foster said at the time that he himself would become the chief advocate for the Southside, a comment that many in the black community questioned. Unlike 2009, Foster did not win the majority votes south of Central Avenue last month.

Mayor-elect Kriseman has also showed that he's serious about Midtown by choices for his transition team, including Dr. Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich as co-chair of the team and Gypsy Gallardo as the head of its Economic Development component.

Gallardo and Scruggs-Leftwich are key players with Agenda 2010, a group of South St. Pete leaders who have crafted a plan to reduce poverty over the next decade.

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