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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

St. Pete City Council primary races yield few surprises


Published:

ST. PETERSBURG — With clear winners emerging in every City Council primary race Tuesday, there may not be much intrigue in the November general election.

As predicted by polls, incumbent Karl Nurse, activist Darden Rice in District 4 and first-time candidate Amy Foster in District 8 won by big margins and will move forward to the Nov. 5 general election.

Nurse received almost 70 percent of the vote in District 6, with activist Sharon Russ coming in second place with a little more than 18 percent.

The district includes some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Nurse said he will continue to highlight his work at turning around run-down neighborhoods and restoring derelict and foreclosed properties.

“It’s very nice to win by that kind of margin in my own district,” Nurse said. “Now, I just need to go across the city and communicate what I want to do and where I want to take the city.”

Russ said all she can do to compete in November is try and convince people she cares more about the community than Nurse.

“We have to come together to see what we can do for this district,” she said.

In District 4, Rice took nearly 46 percent of votes cast. After twice losing in runs for office, Rice said the victory showed that voters had faith in her. Her campaign has included calls for the city to offer universal recycling and to stop using red-light cameras.

“It was a victory for our message of St. Pete strong, strong neighborhoods, strong city services,” Rice said. “We learned tonight that voters trust me and see me as the best leader for St. Petersburg.”

District 4 also produced the evening’s one surprise with engineer and entrepreneur Carolyn Fries receiving 26 percent of votes cast and narrowly defeating neurosurgeon David McKalip.

“I’m thrilled. I worked hard, and it worked out,” Fries said.

Fries’ campaign has focused on her business experience and problem-solving skills, but she faces a daunting task in the general election, with Rice having raised $75,000 in campaign donations compared to Fries’ $10,000.

Fries said she hopes she can pick up support from McKalip supporters, whom she said are unlikely to back the more progressive Rice.

Foster, who heads a national program that encourages girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, received nearly 56 percent of the vote in the District 8 race. She will face musician and businessman Steve Galvin in the runoff.

With just 18 percent of District 8 supporters backing him, Galvin said he knows he faces an uphill battle. But he said he was glad to have a chance after losing his campaign manager after reports surfaced he had fathered a child out of wedlock in California eight years ago and agreed to pay child support after being named in a paternity suit.

“I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to go,” said Galvin. “I would have liked to have a bigger slice of the pie, but I’m still at the table.”

codonnell@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-7654

Twitter: @codonnellTBO

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