St. Petersburg-based community organizer Richie Floyd was on a trajectory to middle-class success working as a systems engineer at Honeywell Aerospace in Clearwater a few years ago when he ditched that job to become a middle-school teacher.
What You Need To Know
- Richie Floyd, 29, files to run for Council District 8 seat
- District is located in central St. Petersburg
- Floyd believes in "reimagining" public safety
- More Politics headlines
“I wanted to do something that aligned with my values better,” the Fort Walton Beach native says in speaking with Spectrum Bay News 9. “I worked for the military-industrial complex and I’m a progressive, so I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable there and I saw an opportunity to educate kids in science and engineering. So I took it.” (He’s now on COVID leave from his regular teaching assignment this year but intends to return next year).
The 29-year-old Floyd is now taking the opportunity to run for political office. He filed two weeks ago to run in the St. Petersburg City Council District 8 seat that will be vacated by a term-limited Amy Foster next year.
The district is located in central St. Petersburg, with the 34th Street corridor running through it. Floyd lives right off 34th St., and said the area is “near and dear to me.”
“I see every day the vulnerable, the houseless, the addicted coming up and down my street,” he said, adding that’s why he’s a major proponent of the Community Assistance Liaison program that the St. Pete Police Department announced this summer. That program – created in the aftermath of the protests following the death of George Floyd – is slated to be staffed by social workers and health care professionals who will respond to some non-criminal and non-violent calls for service instead of having police officers.
ABOVE: WEB EXTRA INTERVIEW with Richie Floyd
Floyd participated in many of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place this summer in St. Petersburg. He believes in “reimagining” public safety to the extent that it’s more than just policing.
“This is about saying that the public is safer when economic opportunity is available to all,” he said. “The public is safer when people have steady housing and people have social services. The public is safer when kids have reasons not to be on the streets. They have job opportunities and people have social services.”
Floyd is a member of the Pinellas Democratic Socialists of America chapter, which has seen explosive growth in recent years (membership has increased from 6,500 to 70,000 over the past six years, according to CBS News). He’s proud of the work the group advocates for, which includes health care for all; saving the U.S. Postal Service and a Green New Deal to combat climate change.
Regarding the redevelopment of Tropicana Field, Floyd is adamant that any development there should benefit the existing residents – particularly Blacks who live on the south side.
“The history there is disturbing there, to be honest,” he said. “And I would like for the city to make amends there through making sure that … development that happens in the city is focused on increasing existing citizens incomes and increasable existing citizens quality of life and creating housing options and job options for the people who already live here.”
Floyd is one of less than a handful of candidates who have already filed for next year’s municipal elections in St. Petersburg, which take place in August 2021.
The most crowded field for city council at this early date is in the District 4 seat where incumbent Darden Rice is also term-limited next year. There are now two candidates in that race: Wendy Wesley and Clifford Hobbs.
A third candidate, Lauren Hubbard, had filed to run, but told Spectrum Bay News 9 this week that she had to withdraw her candidacy due to financial reasons brought on by the pandemic.