St. Pete City Council candidate Copley Gerdes leads in District 1 fundraising race

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Four candidates are vying to take the place of current council member Robert Blackmon.

St. Petersburg City Council candidate Copley Gerdes is heading the District 1 fundraising race, which has four candidates vying to take the place of current council member Robert Blackmon as he seeks the mayoral seat.

Gerdes, the son of former District 1 representative Charlie Gerdes, raised $16,200 in the first campaign finance period, which, for District 1 candidates, started June 1 and lasted until June 18.

Trailing Gerdes is retired dentist Ed Carlson, who reported $15,200 in the same period, including $12,000 in self-funding. Behind Carlson is Bobbie Shay Lee, a local lobbyist who reported raising $8,525, and John Hornbeck, who raised $6,500 and also ran for the seat back in 2019.

Gerdes had 54 contributors to his campaign in the latest period, including five businesses and eight $1,000 donations. Those $1,000 drops came from donors like Dee Development, Inc., FCS Inc. and Grease Depot, Inc., as well as individual donors and relatives.

Gerdes spent $1,252 this period on election fees and credit card processing costs, leaving him with $14,948 cash on hand.

Carlson, who reported $12,000 in self-funding, reported four donors. Of those donors, three dished out $1,000 on Carlson’s campaign, including Frances Walker Risser Trust and oil executive P.N. Risser, both associated with Risser Oil Corporation, as well as Linnea Sennott. 

Carlson spent $771 this time around, primarily on city election fees. This leaves Carlson with $14,429 going into the next finance period.

Lee reported 26 donors to her campaign, including $1,000 donations from Hap O’Neill Marina, Inc., Suncoast Better Government Political Committee, Foundation for Freedom PAC and executive Kristin McKinney.

Lee will enter the next financial period with $7,196 in available money after spending $1,329 this period on election fees, credit card processing payments, campaign consulting services and photography.

Hornbeck had the lowest fundraising numbers this period, reporting $4,500 in self-funding, and two $1,000 donations from attorney William Hornbeck and mental health counselor Wendy Coughlin.

Despite lower fundraising numbers, Hornbeck spent the most among the candidates, dishing out $2,612 this period on printing services and digital marketing. He will enter the next period with $3,888 cash on hand.

The District 1 Special Election will appear on the ballot with the four scheduled Primary Elections on Aug. 24 in Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8, and on the Nov. 2 General Election, if needed.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


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