St. Pete City Council veterans say goodbye as city ushers in rookies Darden Rice and Amy Foster listen01/02/14 Janelle Irwin
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City council members met inside city hall to say goodbye to council members Jeff Danner and Leslie Curran who were term limited out of office. Replacing them will be Amy Foster and Darden Rice.
Foster will replace District 8’s Jeff Danner in the middle of the city butting up to Pinellas Park. Rice will take over Leslie Curran’s long held seat in District 4 which covers parts of northeast St. Pete from 9th avenue North extending to Meadowlawn.
Both Rice and Foster were joined with their partners to be sworn in. Also renewing their oath today were council members Karl Nurse and Jim Kennedy. Current city council members took turns saying good bye to the outgoing council members and Mayor Bill Foster during a one-hour ceremonial council meeting. Charlie Gerdes gave an emotional good bye to all three exiting officials, but got particularly choked up when he spoke about Mayor Foster even though he did not endorse him for re-elections.
“You have spent yourself in a worthy cause Mayor Foster. You have known the great devotions and you have achieved triumphs. I want you to know that. And your face has been marred by sweat, blood and tears because I know that you love the city and you always will. Thank you so much for your service and please call me, grab me by the collar and shake me around when I’m screwing up. Okay? I love you.”
Council members highlighted Foster’s accomplishments as mayor including the opening of Pinellas Safe Harbor to give people living on the streets a place to sleep at night. A video highlighted numerous groundbreakings on economic development projects and silly moments like dancing on a stage and diving into a pool with council member Wengay Newton. During a speech, Foster said he had no regrets about his sole term as mayor and that he’s confident new mayor Rick Kriseman will take the city in a positive direction.
“Mr. Kriseman is going to drink from a fire hydrant for a while and he’s going to need all of our love, support and prayers. So, I ask the people to pray for Rick and his family because he’s going into uncharted territory as far as his family. So, my commitment is to pray for this city, pray for the new leadership and this city will thrive. God bless you.”
City Council members each made note of outgoing council member Leslie Curran’s life threatening bicycling accident in 2010 that took months of recovery before she could return to her post. They commended her strong will and strength during that time. Curran herself noted the challenges she faced during that time and even joked about moving to another city district to run for office again. She also offered advice to her successors.
“The one thing you have to remember is, you cannot make everyone happy and that is really not your job to make everyone happy. But what is your job and your responsibility is just to do the right thing and if you do the right thing, whether people agree with you or not, you can go home at night and get a good night’s sleep.”
Some of Curran’s most notable accomplishments while on council involved furthering the St. Pete arts community. She will move forward as the vice president of the edge district near Tropicana Field and the police station where arts and small business are making an insurgence. Jeff Danner will serve as the president of the Grand Central District right next to the edge. Danner, who was the chair of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, is expected to also continue his work on transit.
“When I see the trolleys going down Central, I will be glad that I had a role in that. People don’t realize how challenging that really was. It makes so much sense, but when you told PSTA you want to take three routes from the beach to downtown and turn them into one and let’s put them in trolleys and paint them yellow, they just couldn’t comprehend that. We’re blue, diesel buses with numbers, we’re not yellow trolleys with names. It took a while, but it’s been successful and I think I’m going to look at that as a good accomplishment and certainly continue with the transportation issues.”
Danner also wished the new city council members luck in their new posts saying it’s not a full time job, it’s your life.