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 Wengay “Newt” Newton.
Newton says his focus is giving back to the community that gave him a chance.
“My mom started in Midtown St. Pete. She was a single, divorced mom raising eight kids in this town,” he explained while pointing to the land where the home he grew up in once stood.
Newton recently donated the land to Habitat for Humanity, and soon, a single mom and her kids will move onto the property.
“The number one crisis in our community today is crime and also affordable housing,” he explained.
Newton says his focus is on building stronger neighborhoods and expanding school programs to combat crime and help kids reach their full potential.
“Food stamps, government subsidies, free lunch, reduced lunch, summer jobs. You’re looking at it,” he said while pointing to himself. “Yet, I took full advantage of every opportunity to help me realize my full potential because those programs were a hand up not a handout. I’m a living testimony of what can be,” he said enthusiastically.
Newton doesn’t believe enough has been done to help low-income neighborhoods thrive and invest in arrest diversion programs.
“I want the same opportunities for these kids trapped in these areas of greatest neglect and I think that the crime will go down. Kids who are working aren’t committing crime,” he added.
Newton also wants to invest in clean energy. As the only candidate who has worked in our state’s capitol, he believes his connections are what sets him apart.
“I don’t see party. I don’t see race. I don’t see gender. I see getting things done,” he explained.
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 January 6 and serve a 4-year term.
To see Newton's candidate website, click here.