Spectrum Bay News 9 Political Reporter Mitch Perry is looking for deeper meaning in politics and government so our local stories have more of a connection in your daily life.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rick Kriseman says he loves his job so much he doesn’t want to think about what his life will be outside City Hall when he is term-limited out of office.
- Current city charter means no 3rd term for Mayor Kriseman
- Mayor frustrated with President Trump policies regarding Cuba
- Residents will be "blown away" by new Pier, mayor says
- More Spectrum Bay News 9 Politics headlines
NO 3RD TERM FOR MAYOR KRISEMAN?
The city’s charter limits the mayor and city council members in St. Petersburg to two terms in office — and he’s not about to campaign to change that — BUT, if somebody else were to advocate for that?
“You know, that’s not for me to do,” the mayor told Spectrum Bay News 9 last week. “If someone in the community thinks that I’m doing a great job and they want me to stay, than they have the right to go out and start a petition process and try to change our charter.”
Kriseman said he’s never been a fan of term limits, believing that elections themselves serve as de facto time limits.
“My first election for mayor was a term limit for Mayor Foster," he said, referring to his victory over Bill Foster by a stunning 12 percentage points back in 2013. "We didn’t need an artificially imposed term limit (mimes air quotes) for the voters to make that decision.”
TWO-TERM LIMIT NOT A FIRM STATE LAW
While most cities in the Tampa Bay area limit mayors to two terms in office that’s not a firm law around the state.
Last month, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer was elected to his fifth full term in office. Since first being elected in 2003, he’s won all of his reelections by more than 20 percentage points.
For Kriseman to get the opportunity to run for a third term, however, the city charter would have to be amended. And with just two years to go in his second term, there doesn’t appear to be the time nor any organized effort to make that happen.
KRISEMAN NOT AGAINST BAN ON MAYORS RUNNING FOR RE-ELECTION
Interestingly enough though, there is a charter amendment proposal that does truly animate the mayor.
That would be to ban a former mayor who has stepped down from office from ever running for re-election. And if that sounds like a proposal that would have blocked his bitter rival, former Mayor Rick Baker from challenging him in 2017, well, so be it, he says.
“When you have a new administration that comes in, they make some changes in personnel, they may make some changes philosophically about how they want things to happen or the direction,“ he says.
“If I run and come back after that, then you’re undoing everything that’s been done (by the previous administration). You lose that continuity. I don’t think that’s necessarily good for a city and for this city, so if I was going to make myself any changes to the Charter that’s something that I might think about.”
Spectrum Bay News 9 reached out to Baker for a response. He did not return our requests for comment.
KRISEMAN WEIGHS IN ON TRUMP'S CUBA POLICY
Mayor Kriseman also weighed in on his frustration with President Donald Trump’s policy regarding Cuba. Trump has reversed many of the diplomatic changes that President Barack Obama enacted with the communist island in the last years of his administration. Kriseman traveled to Cuba last month as a guest of the Cuban government to attend the 500th birthday celebration for the city of Havana.
He said if the U.S. government can have relations with countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia, surely it can foster a relationship with a country so close to the Florida peninsula.
“Part of the reason why I continue to have those relationships is for that purpose: at some point in time, I’m hoping, whether we have a new administration or this administration, it finally clicks for them that doing things the same way we’ve done them for more than 50 years and expecting a different result just doesn’t make sense,” he says of the economic embargo that the U.S. government continues to deploy against Cuba.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Kriseman continued about the longstanding sanctions. “I get that we don’t like some of the things that the Cuban government does. I don’t like some of the things that the Cuban government does. But having said that, why do we treat them differently than any other country?”
KRISEMAN TO REMAIN NEUTRAL IN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE
Back on the domestic political scene, Kriseman said he’s been observing the Democratic presidential primary campaign, and has good things to say about several candidates, name-checking Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. He said he'll remain neutral in the race.
The mayor supports the impeachment of President Trump.
“I think that a foreign government - to go after your potential opponent undermines our democracy and it shouldn’t be a Democratic or Republican thing. ..what I’ve been hearing thus far from Republicans in the Senate is that they’re complaining about the process but I don’t hear them debating the merits.”
KRISEMAN PREDICTS PUBLIC REACTION TO NEW PIER
Regarding city matters, Kriseman is making lofty predictions about how much the public will embrace the longstanding development of a new Pier will bring to St. Pete citizens.
“I think people in this community have no idea what’s coming,” he said about the public's reaction to the unveiling of the new Pier, which is expected to open sometime this spring. “I think people are going to be absolutely blown away by this Pier. This is going to be an experience.”