Candidate forum in St. Pete a lonely affair

10/29/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

Next week, registered voters in St. Petersburg will vote in four races for City Council. There will be a significant changing of the guard, as both Bill Foster and Council Chair Rene Flowers will be leaving because of to term limits.

Yesterday afternoon, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, a forum was held to let the citizenry learn more about the candidates.

But as moderator Marjory Manning said, most of the candidates failed to attend.

In the District 1 seat, Herb Polson, is the incumbent, but was not popularly elected. He was named to fill the seat last year after Rick Kriseman left to go to the state Legislature.

Polson will be facing Bob Kersteen.

In District 3, airline pilot Ed Montanari, who was involved in the campaign on Albert Whitted Airport, faces former teacher Bill Dudley, no relation to the WMNF programmer.

In District 5, incumbent Jamie Bennett is running unopposed, and in Rene Flower’s District 7 seat, former Marine Gershom Faulkner faces Wengay Newton.

Newton, Dudley and Bennett were the only candidates to attend.

The first question was if the candidates supported curbside recycling. Despite being named as Florida’s First Green City, St. Pete surprisingly does not have a program to pick up old newspapers, cans and bottles.

On education in Pinellas County, the NAACP and others have rejected a proposed student assignment plan that would permit students to attend neighborhood schools.

Early voting continues this week. The election takes place next Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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