St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman visited the University of South Florida St. Peterburg Monday morning, saving one of the final stops on his “Faring Well” tour for a university he has grown close with over the last eight years.
Kriseman’s visit began with a tour of the campus, specifically of the recently constructed Osprey Suites residence hall. The 375-bed, $33 million facility increased the number of on-campus beds by 70%, and Kriseman joked how he wished his old college dorm was that luxurious. During the following discussion with USFSP students, Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock stated how every great city has a strong relationship with a university, and how every great university has a strong relationship with its corresponding city.
“We are embedded in St. Petersburg,” added Tadlock. “And you can’t separate the two.”
Kriseman credited the university for helping to address issues surrounding climate change, something that is vital to a city and school on the water. He also noted that the quality of USFSP’s faculty and research has made the city a known commodity outside of the region.
“As a mayor, that is something that I care deeply about, is trying to make sure people around the world know about the City of St. Petersburg,” said Kriseman. “And USF St. Pete has been a huge part of that.”
Kriseman implored students to get more involved in the city, especially as it pertains to local politics. He said that unlike other cities, the St. Pete community makes it easy to get involved in a short amount of time. He recommended attending city council meetings or at least reading the agendas online, as city council issues directly impact their daily lives.
Kriseman relayed how it is typically those that oppose things that attend the meetings, and how important it is to hear from people that support an issue so that city officials have a clearer picture of where the community stands. He also told students how there are regularly a number of open committee positions they can apply for, and how it is rare that someone’s application is denied.
Lastly, he encouraged students to get involved in local campaigns.
“Knock on doors,” he said. “It’s a chance to hear from residents, one-on-one, of what their concerns are and what are the real issues going on in St. Pete.”
Kriseman explained how the state government seems to be taking aim at local government and dictating how they can lead. He called these preemptions a tool to take power away from locally elected officials, making it crucial for the next generation of potential leaders to recognize the importance of local government.
“We know our residents better than they do in Tallahassee,” said Kriseman. “I don’t need someone from Apopka telling me what’s best for St. Pete.”