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A final farewell: Kriseman gives thanks, reflects on his time as mayor

Mark Parker

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Mayor Rick Kriseman gave his final farewell to friends, family and supporters on the St. Pete Pier Monday. Photo by Mark Parker.

With the St. Petersburg Pier shining under a bright January sun as the backdrop, outgoing Mayor Rick Kriseman gathered family, friends and supporters together for the final stop on his “Faring Well” tour.

Monday’s intimate event was a chance for Kriseman to reflect on his last eight years serving the city he loves. Held at the Doc Ford’s restaurant waterfront courtyard, it was a decidedly upbeat affair as Kriseman took the podium with a rum drink in hand. He began his remarks by saying the location was appropriate, as the entire city came together to help build the Pier.

“St. Petersburg is, in fact, faring well,” said Kriseman. “We have an awful lot to be proud of, and we also have an awful lot to look forward to.”

Kriseman said that despite all the city’s accomplishments over the last eight years, he is confident that Mayor-elect Ken Welch, the new city council and the city’s residents will ensure that St. Petersburg’s best days are yet to come.

Kriseman used the occasion to offer a final round of thanks, starting with his family. He said the demands of leading a city are too great to meet without the full support of his family, and without them, all the achievements would not have been possible. Kriseman said their unwavering support began over two decades ago when he first took public office.

“For the last 21 years, my family has stood by me and supported me and kept me grounded,” said Kriseman. “And made sure when I looked in the mirror, I saw the husband and father and not the mayor – and that’s really important.”

Kriseman then expressed his gratitude for his friends and supporters. He relayed that when people would say they voted for him, he would say, “thank you, I needed that vote.” Kriseman called his reelection four years ago a tough fight and added that every election is challenging without friends and supporters giving everything they have to help you do what you think is best to make a difference in the community.

“It meant the world to me; it means the world to me, to call you friend,” he said. “I love all of you – thank you all so much.”

Kriseman also thanked his administration, saying he has never worked with more dedicated and talented people. He called it an honor to get up every morning and work alongside a team that cares so much about their city. He also said it drives him crazy when people say he should be proud of all his accomplishments.

“It wasn’t me that did it,” added Kriseman emphatically. “It was you all. It was this city team, because nothing gets done with just one person.”

Kriseman went on to say that while he is obviously proud of things like the new pier, new police station and infrastructure upgrades, that is not the part of his legacy that matters the most.

Kriseman said he is most proud that the citizens of St. Petersburg are better off today than they were eight years ago. He said new opportunities were created, poverty is at a record low, and St. Pete is a more welcoming, inclusive and loving city than when he first took office.

“And we did all this coming out of a great recession, through a difficult reelection and then up against the global pandemic. But we never hit the brakes.”

Kriseman said that when he chose a developer for the Tropicana Field site last month, he was not surrounded by the well-connected or those that stand to personally benefit from the generational project. He said he made the announcement in the company of those that once called that property home.

Kriseman stated that justice delayed is justice denied, and in the case of the Tropicana Field redevelopment, justice means opportunity. He said the site means affordable homes, greenspace and recreating a community with a sense of place and belonging.

Kriseman said he hopes Welch and Midtown Development will soon agree on a term sheet and a deal to go before the city council in 2022. “Because it is time to move forward with the redevelopment of that site with or without baseball.. Look, we all love the Rays, but they don’t own the site. The people of St. Pete do.”

Kriseman recalled standing on the steps of City Hall eight years and declaring it a new day in the Sunshine City. 

“To become a center of commerce and a driver of economic development in our own right,” added Kriseman. “And we’ve done that.” He said he knew then the city was on the cusp of greatness and declared the time had come for St. Petersburg to emerge from the shadow of the city across the bay.

Kriseman called his tenure as mayor the honor of his life and the best job he has ever had. There is no better job in politics than mayor, he proclaimed, because it puts you near your constituents and allows you to create a real change in your community.

When you visit another city and see people wearing shirts and hats emblazoned with that city’s name, he said, it means they are tourists. But when you see that in St. Pete, it means they’re residents.

“That’s what makes this place special, that’s what makes this place different,” Kriseman said. “That’s why it’s been such an honor for me to be able to guide this city over the last eight years.

“So, on behalf of my family and I, I just want to say thank you for the honor.”

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Mike Connelly

    January 4, 2022at5:21 pm

    He good man❗🙋

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