ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On August 24, voters in St. Petersburg will decide who should be the next person to lead as mayor in the second-largest city in the Tampa Bay region. Currently, eight people are running for St. Pete’s top spot.
Those in the running include current city council members Robert Blackmon and Darden Rice, Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, State Representative and former St. Pete City Council member Wengay Newton, Restauranteur Pete Boland who owns the Galley, Ship’s Hold and Mary Margaret’s Olde Irish Tavern, 20-year-old USF St. Petersburg student Michael Ingram, Stepping Stone Homeless Shelter founder Torry Nelson and Kenwood Organic Produce owner Marcile Powers.
ABC Action News is highlighting each candidate for mayor, including Darden Rice.
Rice considers herself a trailblazer. In 2005, she was the first openly gay candidate to run for office in Pinellas County, and now, she says she continues to break down barriers that set St. Petersburg residents up for success.
“As mayor, I need to make sure that we all have these opportunities to thrive because everybody wants a shot at better-paying jobs, more affordable places to live,” she explained.
Rice says her biggest priorities are establishing universal preschool and free two-year college and technical training. She also wants to protect the environment and continue upgrading infrastructure to prevent wastewater spills.
“Not only did we put $300 million into immediate fixes, but I will remain committed as ever to our continued work to fix and maintain our infrastructure and get ready for the challenges of the 21st century,” she added.
Rice says her experience on the city council is what sets her apart. She’s spent eight years serving her district. “I know where the bottlenecks are, where the quicksand is, what needs to be streamlined and changed and I’m going to be ready on day one to make sure our city runs better and is more accountable for everybody.”
Rice says it’s important city leaders balance growth with preservation while paving the way for more affordable housing.
Rice hopes to continue her legacy and tackle existing and new projects, this time in a mayoral role.
“With my experience, I’m ready to get started on day one,” she said. “As mayor, I need to make sure that we all have these opportunities to thrive because everybody wants a shot at better-paying jobs, more affordable places to live and we value how culturally rich and warm and welcoming our city is.”
St. Pete’s primary election is August 24. If no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote, the top two will face off in November.
To view Rice's candidate website, click here.