Rick Kriseman says Kathleen Ford's advocacy against the Lens could hurt her run for mayor

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"I think there's a certain segment of the people that probably aren't really happy with her either about the way she's handled it, because they were named as plaintiffs (in the lawsuit against the city) after merely signing a petition," he told CL Wednesday afternoon at an event at the spanking new Birchwood Inn on Beach Drive in St. Pete. "I can't imagine that she's endeared herself to those folks very much, so I don't think there's a foregone conclusion because she's staked out a position on one side and the mayor staked out a position on the other." (Ultimately Ford agreed to drop the more than 15,000 people — who signed the petition to have a vote on the Pier — who were originally listed as co-plaintiffs.)

Kriseman said there hasn't been enough discussion about what will happen if voters reject the Lens on Aug. 27. He said city officials have made a mistake by opting to shut down the Pier beginning next weekend.

"I wouldn't have been so quick to shut it down at this point. I think I would have been a lot more comfortable closing down businesses if I knew where we were going, if we had permitting already in the works," he said.

When asked if Ford's entry into the race changes his strategy, the former state legislator said it does impact how he spends his resources.

"Instead of focusing all your attention and your mail pieces on the differences between you and one candidate, now you've got two," he said.

Kriseman also blamed Bill Foster for a lack of leadership with the Pier issue, particularly after the public hearings were completed and the Lens was selected by a jury as the design to replace the inverted pyramid structure that has been in place for 40 years.

"Once there has been a selection made, then you've gotta go out and say, 'okay, I'm done.' Once there has been a selection made, then you've gotta go out and sell it to the public, sell it to the council, and I don't think that really happened, and there was a lot of mixed signals that were given to the public."

Kriseman said the divisive nature of the issue has been "detrimental" to the community.

But he said it's important to talk about issues other than the Pier and the Rays. We'll hear him discuss those issues in a subsequent post.

  • Rick Kriseman

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it's unofficially summertime, which means the next three months will be a concentrated campaign season in St.Petersburg for the mayoral and City Council candidates; the primary election takes place a week before Labor Day.

There are two announced challengers who want to thwart Bill Foster from enjoying four more years leading the 'burg — Rick Kriseman and Kathleen Ford, both former members of the City Council who served alongside Foster in the aughts.

For a couple of months, Kriseman was Foster's sole challenger, but the narrative changed in mid-April when Ford announced her intentions to run again, the third time in four election cycles.

Much has been made about how Ford could ride the anti-Lens momentum to get into a run-off with Foster, because the vote to stop the Lens will also be on the Aug. 27 ballot.

But Kriseman said Ford's participation in the lawsuit that originated with the VoteOnThePier.com crowd could also be detriment to her chances.

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