Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice is backing Copley Gerdes for St. Petersburg City Council, he announced Thursday.
Gerdes is running for the District 1 seat covering West St. Pete to replace City Council member Robert Blackmon. The seat is up for Special Election this year alongside regular City Council races because Blackmon, who is running for Mayor, is stepping down.
“Copley Gerdes is exactly the kind of principled, thoughtful leader we need on the St Petersburg City Council,” Justice said. “On affordable housing, public safety, smart growth, and all of the issues we face, Copley is ready to take a leadership role and move our community forward.”
Gerdes faces lobbyist Bobbie Shay Lee in the Nov. 2 General Election. While the race is nonpartisan — candidates’ political affiliations won’t appear on the ballot — Gerdes is a Democrat and Lee a Republican, making Justice’s endorsement not much of a surprise. He’s a Democrat too.
Justice has served as a Pinellas County Commissioner since 2012. Before that, he served as a state Senator from 2006-2010 and as a state Representative from 2000-2006.
“I’m truly honored by the support of Commissioner Justice. His long track record of public service, responsible leadership, and constructive collaboration is an example for all elected officials,” Gerdes said. “I look forward to joining the Commissioner to build bridges and work collaboratively throughout the region to move St Petersburg and all of Pinellas towards a brighter future.”
Gerdes is the son of former City Council member Charlie Gerdes, who represented the district for eight years before Blackmon succeeded him.
Gerdes finished statistically tied with Lee in the four-way Primary Election Aug. 24 with about 34% of the vote each. They knocked two candidates from the race — retired dentist Ed Carlson and lawyer John Hornbeck.
District 1 is one of only two City Council districts with a Republican advantage, though the difference between GOP and Democratic voters is negligible at 8,395 to 8,087, according to data from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.
However, that slight GOP advantage for Lee, a Republican, evaporates in the General Election, which is open citywide. There, Democrats outnumber Republicans with 88,275 voters to 49,564.
Gerdes has already piled up several endorsements, including from incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, current Council members Amy Foster, Gina Driscoll and Lisa Wheeler Bowman, School Board member Bill Dudley, the Sierra Club, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association, Equality Florida Action PAC, the Pinellas Realtors Organization and the local International Association of Fire Fighters.
Copley Gerdes is a financial planner who works on the foundation of a love of “family.”
Gerdes volunteers his time with the Police Athletic League and his church. He runs a charity with his wife, Cecily, called Love McKinley, which supports families fighting pediatric cancer.