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 Pete Boland.
Boland says he’s proud that he didn’t lay off a single employee during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite owning three taverns that were forced to close during parts of 2020 due to government orders.
Boland believes his skills in business are what sets him apart from other candidates.
“I really want to fight for the little guy and for small business,” he explained. “We’ve just been so intertwined with so many issues over the year here in St Pete. We are really on the ground level with people.”
Boland says his focus will be on lowering taxes and serving as a champion for small businesses.
“The reason why I’m running for mayor is because I want quick action. I do not feel comfortable with the cautious approach of some of those career politicians who are out there,” he added.
Boland also wants to pave the way for affordable housing in a city where housing prices have increased more than 60% in the past 5 years.
“We’ve got to build more houses, help people build accessory dwelling units and more garage apartments,” he explained.
The Rays are also among his top priorities. “I would say we’re in the ninth inning now. If we want to save pro sports for Pinellas County, we have to act now and move quickly. I’d like to get a regional approach together,” he elaborated.
Yet, all of those topics come second to protecting our environment, he says.
“Affordable housing, the Rays, none of that is going to matter if our bay and inlet waters are poisoned and in a dead zone where we can’t swim or fish or boat in.”
Boland believes more needs to be done to update St. Petersburg’s infrastructure in a quicker fashion.
If no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote on August 24, the top two will face off in November. The new mayor will be sworn in on January 6 and serve a 4-year term.
To view Boland's candidate website, click here.