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Karl Nurse, Jim Kennedy say goodbye to St. Pete City Council

The two longest-serving members of the St. Petersburg City Council, Jim Kennedy and Karl Nurse, appeared on the dais for the last time Tuesday, giving the reins of power to newcomers Brandi Gabbard and Gina Driscoll, who are taking their spots for Districts 2 and 6, respectively.

While a member of the St. Pete board can only serve eight years, both Kennedy and Nurse were appointed to fill out the remaining part of their predecessor’s four-year terms in 2007 and 2008, giving Kennedy a total of 10 years on the board and Nurse more than nine.

Both men gave informal remarks Tuesday as they met with colleagues for the last time in office.

While Kennedy’s comments were relatively brief, Nurse called out each associate for praise as he moves back full-time into the private sector as president of Bay Tech Label, a specialty printing company.

On Kennedy: “Your values reflect the best of us.”

On Ed Montanari: “You’re a class act.”

On Steve Kornell, the first openly gay member of the Council: “I want to thank Steve for having the courage to be first,” Nurse said before he was drowned out by applause.

Speaking about Darden Rice, Nurse grew emotional, then effusive, in his praise: “This is someone who has spent her whole adult life trying to make the world a better place,” he surmised.

On Amy Foster, who Nurse said he didn’t know when she ran in 2013: “It has been a joy.”

Then looking over at newly elected Council Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Nurse went down memory lane, claiming that her victory over Will Newton in 2013 was the “most personal, ugliest campaign for City Council in Council history.”

“She was much tougher and much classier, and that was the beginning,” Nurse added. “Lisa doesn’t speak very often, but when Lisa speaks, people stop.”

Acknowledging he was speaking much longer than intended, Nurse quickly wrapped up.

“Thank you, folks. It’s been a joy.”

Kennedy was much more succinct, beginning with profuse thanks to members of the city’s administrative staff.

“It’s been an honor. It’s been a privilege serving with you and all of your predecessors, and I’m sure that the city is in good hands going forward, so thank you, good luck, God bless!”

And with that, the two men’s Council careers were over, though maybe not entirely when it comes to local politics.

Kennedy recently told the Tampa Bay Times he is weighing a run for Pinellas County Commission later this year.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at

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