ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The city of St. Petersburg's primary election for its next mayor is right around the corner, and there's a lot to consider.
There's a packed field of nine contenders running to replace outgoing Mayor Rick Kriseman. You can find a sample ballot ahead of election day here.
You'll notice there are only eight names on the ballot, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections says that's because a blank space has been left to write-in candidate Michael Levinson's name.
Below is a guide to help you navigate the ballot and clear up any lingering questions you might have about election day:
Who is running?
Robert Blackmon: A St. Pete native and current city council member, Blackmon is running under the slogan "Giving the Sunshine City 'A Choice and a Voice' in local government."
Blackmon has secured himself several endorsements including that of former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco. Among his top issues are creating a vision for the redevelopment of Tropicana Field, protecting neighborhoods from "excessive redevelopment" and reducing the city's crime rate.
Pete Boland: The St. Pete businessman says he is looking to end the cycle of career politicians by running for mayor.
In an effort to "move the city forward" Boland's platform focuses on things like affordable housing, investing in the police and protecting Tampa Bay-area waterways. He also is pledging to never seek further political office.
Michael Ingram: The current USF St. Pete political science student is looking to be the city's youngest mayor. He's running under the promise of more green transportation, enhancing affordable housing and investing in infrastructure for a "clean future."
Michael Levinson: The self-described "independent poet prophet" candidate, with hopes of also running for president, has a different focus for his role if elected mayor.
According to his website, every house in St. Pete can be planted with hemp which can later be collected by landscapers. Levinson's website adds that homeowners would get a receipt for the hemp which would be taken to a plant by drone. From there, the plant would "turn hemp trapped Carbon Dioxide
from our atmosphere above into cardboard for Amazon shipping-boxes."
Torry Nelson: The St. Pete native is hoping to bring "progressive politics for the future" if elected as the city's next mayor. Among the items on his platform are a Sustainable Biodiversity Green Design Plan, a push for the development of after-school programs and a stadium share between the Rays, Rowdies and Buccaneers.
Wengay Newton: After spending eight years on St. Pete City Council and four years in the Florida House of Representatives, Newton is ready to try his hand at being the mayor of the city he grew up in.
His platform includes developing stronger neighborhoods, creating economic opportunities for all and expanding school funding and resources.
"We must support our neighborhoods by recognizing their strengths, protecting their identity, honoring their diversity, and aggressively supporting their needs," his campaign website reads.
Marcile Powers: The Kenwood small business owner is running to "represent citizens not developers." Powers says if elected she wants to get Delta 9 cannabis legalized in the entire city.
Other issues she is focused on are holding companies responsible for dumping into Tampa Bay, creating affordable housing units owned by the city and supporting small businesses.
You can learn more about her here.
Darden Rice: The city council member, since 2013, says she "will fight to make St. Petersburg work for everyone" if elected mayor.
Her platform is focused on preserving the city's historic elements, supporting local businesses, enhancing education and working to ensure affordable housing is accessible to all.
Rice has secured several endorsements including that of Equality Florida.
You can learn more about her here.
Ken Welch: The third-generation St. Pete resident and former county commissioner wants to be a "unifying leader who believes in partnership and working towards a common goal of authentic progress for every neighborhood."
In his run for mayor, Welch is focusing on six principles, including being in touch with the entire city, creating an inclusive space and bringing innovation to St. Pete.
Outgoing Mayor Rick Kriseman and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri are among those who have endorsed Welch.
When is the primary election?
Registered voters who live within the city of St. Petersburg will be able to cast their vote in person on Aug. 24.
All precincts within the city limits will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be no early voting for this election, per the Supervisor of Elections website.
If you'd rather skip the line and vote by mail you only have until 5 p.m. on Aug. 14 to request your ballot. Thousands of military/overseas and domestic ballots have already been sent out and returned for this election.
You can request a mail-in ballot via email or by calling the number below:
- (727) 464-VOTE (8683)
According to the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections' latest vote tally, a total of 36,576 ballots have been cast as of Aug. 23. So far, that's only a 19.32 percent turnout of voters for the primary.
Where to vote?
All of the precincts in St. Petersburg will be open on Aug. 24 for the primary election. You'll want to be sure to visit your specific precinct to cast your vote since there are other district-specific contests on certain ballots.
Not sure where to go? The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections has a convenient tool to help you get to the right place.
You'll need to enter your house number and street name into an online system to determine your precinct. You can do so, here.
Is the primary election only to vote for mayor?
The answer to that question is yes and no — it really just depends on where you live.
All St. Pete precincts will be voting for mayor on Aug. 24 but those who live in District 1, District 4 or District 8 will also see a council member seat on their ballot.
You can learn more about who is running and see a sample ballot ahead of casting your vote here.
Will this be my only chance to vote for St. Pete's next mayor?
The answer to that question is likely no, but in a rare instance, a candidate can be elected during a primary.
According to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections website, if a candidate for mayor receives more than 50 percent of the vote during the primary election they will be considered "duly elected and shall not be required to be placed on the general election ballot."
If that is not the case, then the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes during the primary will be declared nominees and placed on the general municipal election ballots.
Can I still register to vote?
The deadline to register to vote in the primary election was July 26 but there is still time to have your voice heard during the general municipal election set for Nov. 2, 2021.
The deadline for the general election is 5 p.m. on Oct. 4. You can register to vote or check your registration status here.