Democrat Rick Kriseman not running for re-election in Florida House; undecided on future in politics listen04/26/12 Janelle Irwin
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Democratic State Representative Rick Kriseman announced this week that he will not seek another term in the Florida House of Representatives. Despite speculation that he may be considering a bid for mayor of St. Petersburg, the 12-year politician says heâ€™s not making any decisions yet.
Kriseman said this past legislative session was the first time his family really expressed their distaste at his leaving for an extended trip to Tallahassee. Running for mayor would alleviate that, but Kriseman said heâ€™s still not ready to make a decision.
â€œAt this point in time I have made no decisions about what Iâ€™m doing. I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™m even going to run for office again. I need to take some time, kind of decompress, work at my law office, enjoy my family.â€
And if Kriseman does have a future in politics, he said heâ€™s not sure which office would afford him the opportunity to do the most good.
â€œIf I make the decision I do what to run again, decide how can I best serve? Whether itâ€™s in the Senate, whether itâ€™s in Congress, whether itâ€™s as mayor, whether itâ€™s one of the other elected offices â€“ county commission â€“ I donâ€™t know. They all have their pluses and minuses to them, but Iâ€™ve got time to decide and Iâ€™m certainly going to use that time to try to decide what I want to do.â€
Kriseman has also expressed contempt at the political climate in Tallahassee. During a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club legislative wrap-up, he told members that this past legislative session was a disappointment.
â€œThe Florida Legislature has once again asked the poor and middle class to cut back and do with less, while asking for no sacrifices from big corporations.â€
Krisman criticized Governor Rick Scott for vetoing funds for rape crisis centers while signing off on $5 million for a rowing center in Sarasota. But it was the mention of education in Florida that made Kriseman really grimace.
â€œIn my mind thereâ€™s been a systemic effort to undercut public education by every year decreasing funding. Then you can claim that the system isnâ€™t working so now we have to look for other sources, whether itâ€™s vouchers or charter schools. The problem is, itâ€™s great if youâ€™re going to throw money in there, but thereâ€™s no accountability and thereâ€™s no oversight.â€
His Republican counterparts talked about improvements to public education â€“ even claiming that Florida ranks tenth in the country. Kriseman said thatâ€™s simply just not true. And itâ€™s been his voice in Pinellas County thatâ€™s been the loudest against many Republican initiatives. He said voters need to take a look at what they like and donâ€™t like and then use the ballot box to make a change.
â€œThereâ€™s been one party thatâ€™s been in charge now for 16 years of the House, of the Senate and of the Governorâ€™s mansion. So, if youâ€™ve got issues with our education system, if you think from an economic development standpoint weâ€™re not competitive, if you donâ€™t think our healthcare system is working you have to look at the guys who are in charge.â€
Kriseman said heâ€™s not worried about leaving the House because he thinks Democrats can unseat some of the 81 Republicans currently in the House. Former St. Petersburg City Council candidate Josh Shulman has announced that he will seek Krisemanâ€™s seat in the House. And Dwight Dudley, a DUI attorney in St. Pete, will challenge Republican Representative Jeff Brandes for his seat in the House.