Kornell becomes first openly gay Council member in St Petersburg

11/04/09 Seán Kinane and Caroline Cziesla
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St. Petersburg voters elected all four incumbent City Council members yesterday: Leslie Curran, Jim Kennedy, Jeff Danner, and Karl Nurse.

In the only race without an incumbent, Steve Kornell beat Angela Rouson by a margin of 59 to 41 percent. Kornell celebrated his victory at Shackleton’s Folly last night.

Kornell: "I am very exited and very happy. What I said in my speech was that, although some people framed this as a race about making history. I see this as about race for the future and talked about what I want to bring to St. Petersburg; the future I want for St. Petersburg. The city that I love and that apparently loves me a little bit too."

Kornell will be the city’s first openly gay Council member. This follows a recent trend of LGBT officials in the Tampa Bay area. A year ago, Hillsborough County voters elected their first openly gay Commissioner, Kevin Beckner, and Jane Castor was selected as Tampa’s Police Chief in September.

Kornell says his first priority will be jobs for St. Pete.

Kornell: "I think that we started a process where we brought in the marine scientists downtown and I want to continue that process. I think that is the one thing I'd like to do not just for my district but for the entire city, because if we can give higher paying jobs, that will also affect a lot of issues such as crime."

Kornell is a school supervisor in Pinellas. He earned the support of his co-worker, Michele Fromer, who has rarely participated in local elections.

Frommer: "His commitment to making our streets a safer place, to give kids opportunities to excel and not get stuck with the stigmatisms of getting caught up in bad crowds and bad neighborhoods, but believing in every child. With the right opportunities, they can succeed."

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