by Benjamin J. Kirby
Most important, head over to his website and donate whatever you can. It's important.
Before we get to the new and interesting stuff, let's all agree that it was at the very least an eventful week in St. Petersburg. The big announcement around the new St. Petersburg Pier came this week. The Columbia Restaurant -- a favorite of mine -- is going to be a prominent feature of the new Pier.
It was welcome news for a project that hasn't exactly been welcomed with open arms in all quarters of St. Petersburg.
Mayor Foster took the opportunity to wring everything he could out of the good news. He needed it.
There is some interesting polling news to share, but before I put it out there, a few caveats. Yes, I've called into question the methods of St. Pete Polls before -- and I maintain it was for good reason. And though we'll point out the results, there are some other, more unconventional pieces I find just as interesting.
So the St. Pete Polls crew has some relatively new stuff out. From this month, take a look at their general St. Petersburg survey. Notice anything interesting? The first question is only sort of about the race for mayor. It's not even about Mayor Foster or Rick Kriseman -- it's about the Pier.
Now, the results are interesting enough:
In this year's city election, will a candidate's position on the Pier be an important factor in who you vote for?
Forget the actual numbers. By virtue of the fact that this is the very first question, I think it's pretty obvious that what the candidates for mayor say about the Pier matters... a lot. You can go read some more of the results. What you'll find are four more questions about the Pier. To give you a little perspective, there's one question about the Tampa Bay Rays and one question about red light cameras.
So if I'm Mayor Foster, I might feel good about the Columbia deal this week, but there'd better be a lot more good news stories lined up going forward. A lot.
As a quick aside: I like the new Pier design, called The Lens. Modern is not usually the way I go with stuff, and if it were up to me, I'd have gone in a different direction (something retro, with a nod to our namesake in Russia; they figured out minarets at the University of Tampa. Why not here?), but that's okay.
Peter at SaintPetersBlog commissioned a poll from St. Pete Polls looking a little more closely at the race for St. Petersburg Mayor. How about that first question?
If the election were held today, would you vote for Bill Foster or Rick Kriseman for Mayor?
Valid polling outfit or not, those numbers ought to make Mayor Foster's stomach churn.
Peter had them ask two more questions about former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker. I honestly couldn't tell you why. My understanding -- and please know that this is the "understanding" of just about the least informed guy you could hope to find -- is that Mayor Baker is very happy in the business world.
The last question about Mayor Baker sticks in my craw a bit, too -- If Rick Baker were to run for Mayor this year, would you vote for Rick Baker or Bill Foster or someone else? -- because they didn't ask about Kriseman specifically. Why not? Why wouldn't you ask that question? I'm not asking snarkily. I'd genuinely like to know.
Peter said it in his own assesment of the numbers. I'm just asking the question. If "much of those who do not want to see Baker run again are voters who would support either Ford or Kriseman," but those same voters "do not want to see former City Councilwoman and two-time mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford give it a third try," then why not ask a question pitting Baker against Kriseman? If the numbers (ostensibly) show incumbent Foster not getting out of a primary, then why not Baker and Kriseman head to head? I'm just curious.
Anyway, I'm not so sure the numbers look all that good for a Rick Baker Comeback Act. 40% would vote for Baker? (Basically) 40% would vote for someone else? That says an awful lot more about the less-than-25%-getting Foster than anything else. The other question, which showed a pretty even split between those that would like to see Baker run again and those who wouldn't, wasn't all that hot in my estimation, either. None of it came off as the public begging for a Rick Baker Renaissance.
So there is a lot to talk about with respect to issues in St. Petersburg. The Pier, obviously. The installation of red light cameras. Whatever in the hell is going to happen with the Rays.
And more, much more. So much that it'll take wiser political minds than mine to sort it all out. But I do know that Rick Kriseman's campaign is two weeks in, and he's getting a visit from newly-elected State Democratic Chair Allison Tant for a high-profile fundraising event. (I always like to say after a sentence like that, that donors like you and me matter too, so please do contribute something -- even ten bucks -- to Rick's campaign; it makes a difference, and I know Rick appreciates it.)
Changes are coming to St. Petersburg. You don't need a pollster to tell you that -- just look around.
Changes are coming to City Hall, too. You don't need a pollster for that, either. Just follow Rick's campaign. Come election time, it'll be a great day in St. Petersburg once again.