St. Pete mayoral candidate during forum: 'Go back to Africa'

St. Pete mayoral candidate makes headlines with "Go back to Africa" comment

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. –  Comments Tuesday night from a candidate in the race to be St. Petersburg's next mayor are raising eyebrows.

The comments came from candidate Paul Congemi.  He was responding to candidate Jesse Nevel's answer to a question about creating more recreational and development opportunities for youth in St. Petersburg.

“My commitment is to reparations to the community, to the black community that has suffered these damages under these current administrations,” Nevel answered, adding that no amount of playground or recreation centers could “heal the wounds” of victims’ families of died at the hands of law enforcement officers.

Minutes later, Congemi responded, saying "Mr. Nevel you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations.  Your reparations, your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.  My advice to you, if you don't like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

Watch: St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Paul Congemi makes "Go back to Africa" comment

Nevel and Congemi were among six candidates at the forum, which included incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, former Mayor Rick Baker (2001-2010), Anthony Cates III and Theresa Lassiter.

There was reaction to Congemi's comments from those in attendance.

“Get out of here,” one woman yelled.

Someone else could be heard calling Congemi a “non-factor” in the mayoral race.

Congemi is running for mayor for the third time.

In the 2009 municipal election, Congemi garnered 119 votes. It was about 0.32 percent of the 36,649 total votes.

In the 2013 primary election, Congemi garnered 225 votes or 0.45 percent of the 50,055 total votes.

The Pinellas County primary election is set for Aug. 29.

Mark Bergin is a digital journalist with 10News WTSP. Like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter and Instagram. You can also email him at mbergin@wtsp.com.

Editor's Note: Viewers can watch Tuesday night’s forum in its entirety here. Congemi’s remarks are at about the 29-minute, 25-second mark.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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