Times endorses Charlie Gerdes in St. Pete District 1 election

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Their pick? Charlie Gerdes, of whom the editors write:

Gerdes, who unsuccessfully ran for a state House seat in 2006, has served as a board member and president of a Brighter Day of Pinellas County, which works with homeless families, and on the ABC Coalition that studied options for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. Both of those experiences prepare him well to lend a thoughtful voice to those issues, and he advocates a more regional approach to the stadium issue that would still protect St. Petersburg's interests.

As a longtime resident, Gerdes blends an appreciation for the city's history and a willingness to move forward. He supports the contest to choose a design for a new Pier that would complement rather than compete with Beach Drive, and he is an advocate for pursuing mass transit, green energy companies and more support for the arts.

The Times has kind words for 35-year-old Josh Shulman, calling him "attractive," and saying he has a "good grasp of the issues," but says he lacks experience and connection with the city." Both true, but "connections" should hardly be a barrier to decide who might be the best person to run for council.

The editorial has nothing too kind to say at all about the venerable Robert Kersteen, who is dismissed simply by the devastating line that "there is no compelling reason to return him to the council."

Kersteen is running as a proud conservative who can work hand in glove with Mayor Bill Foster. But as former USF -St. Pete Poli Sci professor Daryl Paulson told CL last month of Kersteen: "Voters are likely to be less inclined to support someone who sells himself as an ideologue."

But Kersteen does have better name recognition than Shulman - just something to consider on who will make the runoff.

But if you live in District 1, or anywhere in St. Pete and care about local government, you can make up your own mind tomorrow night at City Hall, at 175 Fifth Street North at 7 p.m. It will also be broadcast on the local government access channel (StPeteTV), and streamed live at www.stpete.org.

The League of Women Voters Darden Rice will moderate.

Two weeks from tomorrow, interested voters living in St. Petersburg's District 1 along the city's western edge will be the only residents in the city to vote before November on a local race.

The choice is among the three men to succeed Herb Polson, who announced earlier this year that he would not run for re-election.

There are actually four City Council seats up for election this year, but because there are three candidates involved in this race, there is a run-off on August 30, that will eliminate the three down to two.

Tomorrow night the three candidates - Charlie Gerdes, Josh Shulman and Bob Kersteen - will engage in a debate at City Hall at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, the St. Pete Times today has come out with their recommendation (I learned last year that the Times recommends, they don't endorse) in the race.

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