St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice is backing Copley Gerdes in his bid for the District 1 seat on the Council.
Rice, who was ousted in the city’s mayoral Primary Election after coming in third, credited her endorsement of Gerdes to his history of service in the city. Rice will be leaving her District 4 seat on Council because of term limits after first winning election in 2013.
“St Petersburg deserves representatives who personify our values and who have a deep commitment to our city. I’m endorsing Copley Gerdes because he’s shown the kind of leader he’ll be through his service to our community,” Rice said in a statement. “Whether it’s his work with the Police Athletic League, the Community Planning and Preservation Commission, his charity Love McKinely, or just through a conversation with him, he exudes the kind of optimism and love for St Petersburg that show he’ll be a fantastic Council member.”
Rice joins fellow Council members Amy Foster, Gina Driscoll, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and Deborah Figgs-Sanders in supporting Gerdes, accounting for more than half of the Council.
“Councilmember Rice has dedicated her life to service through her work with the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters and on the St. Petersburg City Council. I’m honored by her endorsement of my campaign,” Gerdes said in a statement. “I believe service to your community is a big part of what makes St. Petersburg special. Our city is stronger because of her work and I hope to continue her efforts on Council.”
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 is stepping down to run for Mayor.
Gerdes is the son of former City Council member Charlie Gerdes, who represented the district for eight years before Blackmon succeeded him.
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 Rice’s endorsement not much of a surprise. She’s a Democrat too.
Gerdes finished statistically tied with Lee in the four-way Primary Election Aug. 24 with about 34% of the vote.
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.