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Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019
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Kriseman’s mayoral team grows to 7

ST. PETERSBURG — After pledging to run St. Petersburg more like a big city, Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman on Thursday announced the appointment of four more administrators, bringing to seven the number of staff he has hired.

Kriseman named Kevin King, his former senior legislative assistant, as his chief of staff and also will hire Benjamin Kirby as communications director for his office. David Flintom will be employed as director of the Mayor’s Action Center, and Jessica Eilerman will take a post as small-business liaison.

Those appointments come after the recent hiring of Kanika Tomalin as deputy mayor, Nikki Gaskin-Capeheart as director of urban affairs and Sally Everett as intergovernmental affairs chief.

King’s role will be to run the mayor’s office and oversee his team. He has worked closely with Kriseman for more than 10 years, including a period as legislative aide when Kriseman was a state representative. He was also director of the Florida Democratic Party’s House Victory operation in 2008.

According to Tribune archives, King was arrested in 2001 on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of computer solicitation to commit a lewd and lascivious act. King, a 22-year-old substitute teacher at the time of the arrest, was accused of calling a 15-year-old girl and trying to persuade her to drink beer with him. He also sent an email to a 14-year-old girl suggesting she skip school so they could have sex, according to the police report.

The meetings never happened, and he was never convicted. A judge ordered the case and arrest records sealed.

Kriseman described King as a natural choice to lead his office.

“I’ve seen him in action for more than a decade and trust that he’ll be the effective chief of staff that a strong mayor form of government deserves,” Kriseman said in a statement.

None of the positions was included in the city’s 2014 budget prepared by outgoing Mayor Bill Foster. Kriseman has been consulting with the city’s budget director to find funding for the positions, which likely will come from the city’s contingency fund and savings from the expected retirement of senior staff, King said.

“The mayor-elect was very mindful to make sure that there is money to pay for every new employee,” King said.

King, Kirby and Everett will work directly for Kriseman, giving the mayor his own staff, similar to operations in other large cities, including Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville. The city will continue to have a city administrator, a position now filled by Tish Elston.

“We’re growing up and will start acting like the fourth largest city in Florida,” King said. “That means the mayor has a staff.”

Kirby served as public affairs officer for the U.S. Parole Commission within the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration. He is the owner of Typeset Media Strategies, a communications firm whose clients included nonprofit groups.

Eilerman most recently worked as market manager for Florida’s Department of Financial Services. Her appointment is intended to give small businesses a direct link to the mayor’s office.

Flintom was Kriseman’s district legislative aide throughout Kriseman’s six years in the Florida House of Representatives. He will run the Mayor’s Action Center, intended to field complaints and requests from residents.

Kriseman is scheduled to be sworn into office Jan. 2.

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