ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Voters in St. Petersburg will head to the polls Tuesday to make their voices heard in several different city races – including who should be the city’s next mayor.
Robert Blackmon, the Republican mayoral candidate, knows he’s not favored in some of the polls, but he’s not ready to throw in the towel.
“You never know what’s going to happen. Polling – some say I’m getting completely blown out, some say it’s neck and neck,” Blackmon said. “I think this is going to be one of the most exciting mayors races in recent memory.”
Ken Welch, the Democratic candidate, knows it’s not time to celebrate.
“My old stomping ground is Lakewood High, a couple of miles that way, and I played offensive tackle. You don’t stop until the last whistle,” Welch said. “So we’re going to play until the last ballot is turned in at 7 p.m. tomorrow. Don’t take anything for granted.”
Welch was a long time Pinellas County Commissioner. Blackmon served on St. Petersburg City Council. Whoever wins Tuesday’s election will replace Mayor Rick Kriseman, who’s not running for reelection due to term limits.
Blackmon believes the fact that he is not a career politician makes him more appealing to voters who are tired with the status quo.
“People are tired of the same old policies and the same old faces,” he said. “And that is what I brought the council and I want to bring to the mayor’s office.”
Welch, who has Mayor Kriseman’s backing, believes he is the candidate who will keep the city’s momentum moving forward.
“I know we’ve changed, almost a 180 degrees from when I was a kid growing up and we were God’s waiting room. Now we are America’s next great city,” Welch said. “And the real question is, do you have the leadership to bring us together and make sure the progress is inclusive for everyone, every neighborhood? And I think my record of partnership and accomplishments makes me the right person to lead this city.”
Polls in St. Petersburg open at 7 a.m. and Close at 7 p.m.