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Catalyze 2024: Rick Kriseman

Bill DeYoung

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We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about the upcoming new year and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2024.

Come Jan. 6, two years will have passed since Rick Kriseman, the 53rd mayor of St. Petersburg, handed over the keys to the office (after two full terms) to successor Ken Welch.

“People tell me I look much more relaxed than I did when I was in office,” he laughed. “It surprises me to hear that because I never felt stressed.”

He’s currently Managing Principal for US Cities Practice at the Tampa-based law firm Shumaker Advisors Florida. Of course Kriseman watches the goings-on in his beloved St. Pete, but even with two years between him and City Hall, he withholds public comment on current affairs and/or controversies.

“I believe being a mayor is the best job in politics,” Kriseman said. “If you enjoyed it, it’s hard to step aside. But it’s also the process, so you know that somebody else is going to do it. It doesn’t mean you stop caring about the city – that’s impossible. But you also try and be respectful of the person that is now sitting in that seat.

“That’s why you haven’t really seen my name in the media; you don’t see a lot of comments or posts by me. Because I’ve tried to be very respectful of the new administration, and not do anything that impacts their ability to try and do what they want to do.”

Putting the day’s hot-button issues to the side, Kriseman was asked if – as some believe – the city is teetering precariously on the edge of overdevelopment?

“What’s key is to be very thoughtful in the development that happens,” he replied. “Certainly when I was in office, our whole team in the back of our minds was always the issue of trying to continue to grow and develop, but with doing so in a way that we didn’t lose the character that made St. Pete special.

“And I think that’s the biggest challenge most cities face. If you’re not growing, you stagnate and die, and that’s not good. But how you do so in a way that you don’t lose the character? So how do you balance that?”

As for 2024, the former mayor was asked: What would you like to see transpire in St. Petersburg in the coming year?

I think the city, despite the comments of the state government, should continue to be a welcoming, diverse, inclusive community,” Kriseman said. “I think that’s core who we are. But it’s also good for business. And we need to continue to be a place that attracts new business, and helps existing businesses grow. That’s good for the economy, but it’s also good for the residents. It creates opportunity for better jobs, and higher-paying jobs, which is a good thing. That helps lift people out of poverty, and that’s always been a goal of the city, to try and reduce poverty and create greater equity in the community.

“And to continue growing, but in a smart way that honors the character of the community.

“Lastly, I think it’s incumbent upon all of us as citizens of the city, the state and the country, especially as this is an election cycle, to make sure and pay attention to who’s running, what their positions are, what their history is, and make sure we vote.”

 

 

 

 

 

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