Gina Driscoll won a second term Tuesday night representing District 6 on the St. Pete City Council, besting challenger Mhariel Summers with nearly 72% of the vote.
Driscoll had been the heavy favorite heading into the General Election. A poll conducted the week before the election showed her leading with 49% support to Summers’ 16%. Polling also showed 35% of respondents were undecided the week before the election.
Driscoll also out-performed Summers in funding. As of Oct. 22, Driscoll raised $122,161 and spent nearly $100,000. Summers only raised $14,294 and spent less than $7,000.
“The voters of St. Petersburg sent a strong message about the importance of female representation on the city council,” Lucy Sedgwick, president of Ruth’s List Florida, said. “We know she will continue to govern collaboratively and in the best interests of St. Petersburg,”
The race was nonpartisan, meaning candidates’ political affiliations did not appear on the ballot. But despite Summers and Driscoll both being Democrats, they represent either ends of the district’s demographic. District 6 runs from the high-dollar homes of the Old Northeast into the ever-higher rising rents and skylines of downtown and further still into the melting pot that is the Old Southeast and the mixed-income Coquina Key.
It’s also a historically significant district for the Black community. The first Black woman on Council, Bette Wimbish, was from District 6. As was the first Black man on Council, David Welch, who is also the father of Ken Welch, who was elected the city’s next Mayor on Tuesday.
Summers is a Black woman born and was raised in St. Pete. She grew up in Coquina Key, part of the district she ran to represent, and leans further left. Driscoll is a more centrist White woman who grew up in Dade City and moved to St. Pete in 2005.
Driscoll has worked most of her career in tourism and marketing, recently serving stints as an executive with Hampton Inn & Suites and the Don CeSar Hotel.
Summers has lived most of her life within District 6, where she has spent the last few years being a community organizer. She interned for Sen. Darryl Rouson in college, a moderate Democrat known for sometimes crossing party lines. But her late entry into the race meant Driscoll got Rouson’s early endorsement. The rest of St. Pete’s Council members endorsed Driscoll.
Summers had said Driscoll hasn’t focused enough on the Southside and Coquina Key portions of the district, which Driscoll has denied.