With the Kriseman administration just months away from closing the lid on its eight-year run, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator Kanika Tomalin knows she’s at a critical turning point in both life and career.
The next step might very well be running for United States Congress, to fill the seat vacated by Representative Charlie Crist, who’s taking another sprint at the governor’s office.
“It’s a very serious responsibility and role,” she says, “one that requires deep consideration. And so I truly am thinking about it.”
She’s not ready to make an announcement, she explains, but there are a few factors she simply can’t ignore. “In the work that I’ve been able to do over the past eight years, a couple of things have become pretty apparent,” the St. Pete native says.
“Service is a calling that I feel I will always answer; the question is only, how? And the work that it’s going to take to help St. Pete move from great to iconic city will require some real continued leadership at every level of government. So it’s just a great opportunity to breathe life into some of the things we’ve been trying to do that require D.C.-level commitment and conviction.
“And it’s something I have to think about, because certainly our community merits that consideration.”
She’s ruled out a candidacy for mayor. “What better space to play out and advance my commitment and conviction to increased access to healthcare, than in D.C.?” she asks. “It’s a very different role than what would happen in the mayor’s office.”
Don’t start printing up those banners and yard signs just yet. As a single mother of two, Tomalin has personal responsibilities on her mind, as well as those that come with community service.
Here’s the other thing, though. “Doors are wide open – we’ve certainly come to a different place of readiness in terms of representation, and the importance of equity and inclusion. Carrying that responsibility forward is also a reason I would definitely consider it.
“Serving our community in that capacity would be historic on a couple of levels, and transformational in the minds of the young people in our community who look around them to see examples of what’s possible.”
Tomalin was interviewed a few hours after her emotional presentation in front of City Council Thursday, in which she talked about her late husband, writer Terry Tomalin.
And she is extremely proud.
“Terry was such an advocate and champion of nature, and the role it can play in the development of leadership, particularly in young people’s lives,” she says. “He was a steward of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, and worked very hard to optimize and advance it. And was so excited about this project, and actually helping to advise it.
“In his lifetime, he made countless contributions to the lives of so many. People still come up to me regularly and talk about the ways he touched their lives. He called Boyd Hill ‘The Church of the Great Outdoors,’ and that campground will certainly serve as a cathedral. It will help people, far longer than the time he was able to be here on earth, understand the contributions he made to the world.”