Former Mayor Rick Baker talks about running for his old office

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — The race for mayor in St. Petersburg is becoming the battle of “The Ricks,” as Democratic incumbent Rick Kriseman and former Republican Mayor Rick Baker are battling it out for the office.

Just three weeks ago, News Channel 8 went one-on-one with Mayor Kriseman. We recently sat down with former Mayor Baker, who held the job for eight years.

Baker criticized Kriseman for the pier, and not doing enough for Midtown residents. He also blasted the current mayor on the city’s sewage problem, saying his administration spent more than $150 million to fix the problem. He says recent woes are essentially Kriseman’s doing.

“The problem is that we closed one of our sewage plants, Mayor Kriseman closed it in 2015,” Baker said. “After going 16 years without a major spill, and four months later we dumped somewhere between 30 and 50 million gallons into the bay.”

We asked Baker about one of the issues that divides the two candidates the most, the LGBTQ community. Activists say Kriseman turned a blind eye to them, while Kriseman says he’s gone all out to accept diversity.

Baker claims that’s exactly what he’s doing.

“After the Pulse nightclub shooting, I thought that I wanted to come and show support and unity both for the folks that were attending and against the hate that happened in Orlando,” he said.

Baker also talked to us about the sports scene in St. Pete. He made headlines last month after voters passed a referendum that could make the Tampa Bay Rowdies an expansion team in Major League Soccer. Voters passed that overwhelmingly.

So with the Rowdies on the way, what about the Tampa Bay Rays? Baker says he’d keep them at Tropicana Field or in the Gateway area.You can see our full interview with former Mayor Rick Baker by watching the video above.

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