Mayor Kriseman, former Mayor Baker set to square off in televised debate

By Fallon Silcox, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 2:45 PM EDT
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The Ricks are set for another debate. 

Current mayor Rick Kriseman and previous mayor/now challenger Rick Baker will square off tonight at 7 p.m. in a debate in front of an invitation-only audience at the Palladium Theater.

Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times will present the debate which will be televised on Bay News 9.

If the past is any indication, expect some fireworks tonight. 

During a public forum last month, the candidates attacked each other's administrations, both saying their opponent was not good for the city.

Democrat Kriseman is seeking his second term while Republican Baker is trying to return to the office he held from 2001 to 2010. Baker is leading in early polls and has a fundraising advantage. 

Among the issues expected to be discussed this evening are the city's ongoing sewer issues, downtown development, crime and the Tropicana Field/Rays saga. 

So which Rick will it be?

Kriseman says the city is doing as well as it ever has under his leadership. Baker, meanwhile, touts his experience as a leader who advocates for schools and fiscal responsibility.

Aside from the finger pointing, voters can agree that they want to hear more about specific plans for the city's future. 

The Aug. 29 primary will have an additional four candidates on the ballot, including Anthony Cates III, Paul Congemi, Theresa "Momma Tee" Lassiter and Jesse Nevel.

Only frontrunners Baker and Kriseman are participating in the televised debate. 

If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, only the top two vote recipients will be listed in the general election on Nov. 7.