Council Member Wengay Newton votes to end design contract on the Lens Pier project listen07/15/13 Naveen Sultan
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Council Member Wengay Newton voted to terminate the contract on the Lens Pier project with Michael Maltzan Architecture, the designers of the new development. St. Petersburg officials chose not to conduct early voting for the August primary, but residents can still cast mail-in ballots in person. Newton announced his vote during a press conference at the Supervisor of Elections Office in St. Petersburg, Friday. He encouraged all St. Petersburg residents to vote now.
â€œFor me this is a culmination, itâ€™s been a long hard battle, as you know over two years ago I made a motion to have the people or my colleagues let the people vote on the fate of the pier and your water front and after two long petition drives, over 40,000 petitions being signed, over 23,000 people singing both, you finally get your say. You finally get to vote, you finally get to take some of the power back from the people you entrusted the power to - to have a say on what happens to your waterfront and today is the day you can do just that and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve just done. Itâ€™s a joy for me to be able to vote. All I ever wanted was the people to have the right to vote on the fate of the waterfront - I get a vote, you get a vote.â€
Newton also said that he is endorsing former City Council member Kathleen Ford for mayor in the upcoming municipal elections. Ford launched a legal battle with the city in an effort to put the St. Pete Pierâ€™s fate on the August ballot. Despite that effort failing, Newton applauded her for her efforts to give residents the right to vote on the pier.
â€œI think a woman would do great, woman leadership Pam Iorio did an excellent job in Tampa. They have a woman police chief whoâ€™s doing a real nice job over there. I have no problem with the kind of government and governance sheâ€™ll bring to this city. We have a multitude of problems. I know she can lead this ship, I know she can bring these people together and she has my utmost confidence and support in this mayoral election. I would like to ask the people to join with me to support Ms. Ford. She was the only one, the only one who fought for you when your elected officials turned away the opportunity for you to vote the first time and she took it amongst herself with her own money and on her own time. Sheâ€™s not a public servant, Sheâ€™s not receiving any public funds to sue the city just to make sure your right to have vote and say on the pier comes to fruition. So, sheâ€™s champion in my eyes, she didnâ€™t have to do it but she did.â€
No matter the outcome of the Lens referendum, Newton said he will support the decision of St. Petersburg residents.