Trop or Not? St. Pete Council Dist. 7 candidates' takes on the Rays saga

This week, we profiled the five candidates running for St. Pete's District 7 City Council seat. The was plenty of ground to cover. One thing we thought we'd give special attention to was each candidate's stance on an ongoing controversy.

Some local media regard the Tampa Bay Rays' stadium drama as the determining factor in the upcoming St. Pete City Council elections: the Tampa Bay Rays. The makeup of council will likely influence whether, or under what terms, the team will be allowed to scope out stadium locales outside city limits, a search which is presently forbidden by the Rays’ contract with the city. In District 7, the candidates all have a different take on the issue.

Here, in a nutshell, is what each of the candidates said.

Will Newton: Make ‘em stay.

“I’m the only candidate that has stood firm on that use agreement. And if anyone thinks that we’re going to let these folks go away, nothing’s going to happen and it won’t affect your income or your community, then those folks are not leaning in the right direction. You’ve got 80-plus home games, they stay at the Vinoy, they spend money downtown when they come, both teams. I’ve got to tell you the economic impact some have said would be as much as $200 million to the reason.”

Sheila Scott-Griffin: Let ‘em look.

“The Rays should be able to look anywhere they want to. Tampa, Hillsborough, that’s just fine with me. But the next thing that must happen is the citizens get to see what next we [decide to do]. No one should ever buy or purchase anything without knowing its history, its current impact and its future.”

Aaron Sharpe: Make a plan.

“They’re an employer in this town that pays an above-average wage… We need to do what’s best for St. Petersburg. We need to do what we can to keep all of the businesses here. We should start immediately figuring out the best plan to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. And then we need to turn that into the strongest plan.”

Elvert “Lewis” Stephens: Get ’er done.

“My stance on the Rays is something has to be done. And I’ll stand by that all day, something has to be done now. We can’t wait until 2027, until the contract is up, to be trying to make a decision on what we’re going to do with the Rays.”

Lisa Wheeler-Brown: Let ‘em look.
“I am definitely open to letting them look, as long as they are held accountable to the taxpayers. We have all those acres that could bring jobs, that could build affordable housing, that could cater to our youth...Why wait eight, ten, 11 years from now? We need that now.”

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