Democrat Rick Kriseman not running for re-election in Florida House; undecided on future in politics
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 heâs 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 heâs still not ready to make a decision.
âAt this point in time I have made no decisions about what Iâm doing. I donât know if Iâm 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 heâs not sure which office would afford him the opportunity to do the most good.
âIf I make the decision I do what to run again, decide how can I best serve? Whether itâs in the Senate, whether itâs in Congress, whether itâs as mayor, whether itâs one of the other elected offices â county commission â I donât know. They all have their pluses and minuses to them, but Iâve got time to decide and Iâm 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.
âThe 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.
âIn my mind thereâs been a systemic effort to undercut public education by every year decreasing funding. Then you can claim that the system isnât working so now we have to look for other sources, whether itâs vouchers or charter schools. The problem is, itâs great if youâre going to throw money in there, but thereâs no accountability and thereâs no oversight.â
His Republican counterparts talked about improvements to public education â even claiming that Florida ranks tenth in the country. Kriseman said thatâs simply just not true. And itâs been his voice in Pinellas County thatâs been the loudest against many Republican initiatives. He said voters need to take a look at what they like and donât like and then use the ballot box to make a change.
âThereâs been one party thatâs been in charge now for 16 years of the House, of the Senate and of the Governorâs mansion. So, if youâve got issues with our education system, if you think from an economic development standpoint weâre not competitive, if you donât think our healthcare system is working you have to look at the guys who are in charge.â
Kriseman said heâs 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 Krisemanâs 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.
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