St Petersburg Swears in New Mayor and History Making Council Member

01/04/10 Tom Baur
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It was a packed house with standing room only at St Petersburg city hall Saturday January 2nd as newly elected Mayor Bill Foster and council member Steve Kornell were sworn in.

St Petersburg City Council celebrated and congratulated outgoing mayor Rick Baker with awards, the key to the city and high praise. Baker led St. Petersburg for almost 9 years until term limits forced him out of office. Baker focused on revitalizing downtown, improving Midtown, lowering the crime rate, and keeping the city’s finances on sound footing despite a deep economic recession.

It’s been rumored for months that Rick Baker has his sights set on the job of President of St Petersburg College even though he does not have a Ph.D. or college administration experience.

Incoming Mayor Bill Foster faces a myriad of challenges and contentious issues: St. Petersburg is mired in recession and joblessness and he must address the problem of panhandlers and the homeless. Also awaiting him is a proposed controversial digital billboard agreement penned by former Mayor Baker and Clearchannel Communications.

One of the more troubling issues Mayor Foster faces will be Baywalk. The retail center has struggled to survive in spite of broad support and concessions from the city.

Foster also talked about his plan to use video cameras in high crime areas of St Petersburg.

With his right hand raised, his left on the Bible, and his mother by his side openly gay Council member Steve Kornell made St Petersburg history as he was sworn in to office. He ran on a platform that included: safer neighborhoods, retaining and attracting jobs, and improved education for children.

Kornell had vast support in the gay and lesbian community. Watermark magazine, a statewide LGBT publication named Steve Kornell’s historic election one of the top Tampa Bay stories of 2009.

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