ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - At the eye of the storm, the surreally quiet closed-down pier, sitting silent as the fate of the property becomes the biggest issue in this city since they built the Trop.
"Ahhh that's St. Pete," said Tom Hallis, a 25-year resident. "There are people that like progress and people that like things to stay the way they are."
Hallis says he's seeing a positive in the plans for a new iconic "Lens" design to replace the old iconic inverted pyramid design, so he headed to the polls on this primary election day with an eye to keep it going.
"I voted for continuing with the pier," Hallis said. So you voted no? "I voted no."
The confounding legalistic linguistics in the ballot question made the positive sound like a negative. But according the man who's been at the center of this issue since the beginning, and now also finds himself in a three-way mayor's race, there was a reason for that.
"Now, the city had no responsibility for authorship of that question," explained Mayor Bill Foster. "That was done by petition drive, it was written by an attorney in Sarasota and we had absolutely nothing to do with that. Could it have been a cleaner question? Absolutely."
The current Mayor turned out early this morning to cast his ballot and to make it clear that no matter what happens in the vote today, the city will still have to move forward tomorrow
"People are passionate about their waterfront," he said. " They love the waterfront."
In fact, the people here are so passionate that nearly 30 thousand votes were already cast before to polls opened today and turnout at local precincts was little more than a trickle through the morning. But those here, even those who've just moved here, were going to make sure their voice was heard.
"Democracy at work," opined Tom Abluem, who'd just moved here this year from Chicago. "Look at the country. It's either 51% democratic, or 51% republican its the way elections go, same thing here."
The interesting day should be tomorrow, when reaction over today's results begins.
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