Justin Bean is finished talking about his past.
Less than one day after opponent Gina Driscoll called on the 30-year-old businessman to apologize to St. Petersburg voters and release his full criminal record, the St. Pete City Council District 6 candidate blasted her for focusing excessively on his background and not the issues facing the city.
“I want to issue a brief statement in response to my opponent’s continued false attacks,” Bean said Monday. “I have been open about my background and it has been covered, extensively, by numerous media outlets. I will no longer be devoting any time on the campaign trail to this issue.”
Bean then pointed out that Driscoll “sought and failed” to receive endorsements from the Tampa Bay Times, the Pinellas Realtors Organization, and the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.
“She has only secured the endorsements of partisan organizations and elected officials with partisan political motives,” he added.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times after launching his campaign this spring, Bean admitted he had been arrested on a DUI charge.
What he did not acknowledge at the time was his involvement in a 2010 charge of resisting arrest.
Bean and Driscoll are in an intense race to succeed term-limited Karl Nurse. Bean received the most votes in the eight-person primary. His finish was aided, in part, by the Times’ recommendation.
Driscoll narrowly edged Robert Blackmon to finish second, advancing to the Nov. 7 runoff.
“Would Bean have advanced if voters knew he’d hidden his resisting arrest charge?” Driscoll asked in a story reported Sunday by Florida Politics. “Why hasn’t Bean apologized to the voters he wants to represent?”
Apparently, that apology is not going to happen.
“I have, and will continue to be focused on the issues that affect the residents of St. Pete,” Bean said. “Instead of mudslinging, perhaps my opponent and her team would be better served forming a plan to revitalize Midtown.
“Instead of talking about me, she should share her ideas for addressing our affordable housing crisis,” he added. “Instead of sending news releases, maybe she should visit with some residents who are out of work and let them know she has no plan for economic development.”
The Driscoll campaign says Bean is failing to take responsibility for his actions.
“So now Justin thinks that calls for honesty and transparency are partisan and negative? Even worse, his reaction is to insult four City Council members? I think that says a lot about how he would behave on Council,” said Megan Salisbury, Driscoll’s campaign manager. “Once again, Justin Bean refuses to take responsibility for his actions. Between conflicting stories from Justin and his campaign, excuses that insult the voters’ intelligence, and even claiming he forgot about being charged with resisting arrest – no amount of spin is going to earn back the voters trust.
“It’s time for Justin to apologize for his deception and own up to his mistakes,” Salisbury continued.
The Councilmembers Salisbury referred to are Nurse, Darden Rice, Charlie Gerdes and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, all had endorsed Driscoll.
Both candidates will next face off Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for a candidate’s forum hosted by the Disston Heights Civic Association.
(Photo credit: Kim DeFalco).