In their own words: Rick Kriseman’s mayoral legacy

Rick Kriseman
What do you think Rick Kriseman's number one legacy is?

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s time in office is coming to a close, but his legacy will live on like those who came before him.

Whether it was championing, and completing, a new pier, negotiating talks with the Tampa Bay Rays to look for a new location for a ballpark, or navigating various sewage crises, Kriseman’s time was marked by ups and downs.

Florida Politics asked political, industry and community leaders: What do you think Rick Kriseman’s number one legacy will be.

Here’s what they had to say:

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist

“He was an incredible Mayor. And truly restored kindness and civility to St. Petersburg’s leadership and community!”

St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Ken Welch

“He has led the way in ensuring our city is more resilient to the impacts of climate change, worked hard to reduce poverty, been an advocate on equality helping the city to receive a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Municipal Equality Index, and strongly supported the region’s first Bus Rapid Transit line that will connect the city to St. Pete Beach when it opens in 2022. You can see concrete progress, from the opening of the new St. Pete Pier to the new police headquarters. But perhaps most importantly, Mayor Kriseman calmly led the city through challenging times with a steady hand and a clear message, whether it was dealing with the worst pandemic in more than a century or the protests that followed George Floyd‘s murder. Every Mayor faces unexpected crises when residents look to them for leadership and reassurance, and Mayor Kriseman will be remembered for providing that leadership in uncertain times.”

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

“Rick Kriseman’s leadership ensures that St. Pete continues to flourish and soar. He never stops generating excitement for his community or focusing on inclusion.”

Sen. Darryl Rouson

“I think there are three things that Krisemen will be known for. The first is completion of the public safety building — the new police headquarters. It’s state of the art. Second is the new pier. Third, and certainly not last is diversity and inclusion. Both in terms of City Hall and the (racism) study.

Sen. Jeff Brandes

“I think his legacy is three things. Increased diversity within the city of St. Petersburg; revitalizing the pier; and the new police station. Also, his continued support for downtown development, which started under Mayor Rick Baker.”

Rep. Ben Diamond

“Under Mayor Kriseman’s leadership, St. Petersburg has become a world-class city. I’m incredibly grateful for his bold leadership on climate action. His efforts to help our city prepare for rising sea levels and the impacts of the climate crisis will be a lasting legacy left behind to future generations of St. Petersburg residents.”

Rep. Michele Rayner

“Because of Mayor Kriseman’s leadership, St. Petersburg has become a truly inclusive city. He was willing to have the hard conversations regarding race and the LGBTQ+ community, and our city will be the better for it.”

Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice

“Finishing major projects that had been held up for years such as the Pier and the Police Headquarters.  And moving forward with substantial infrastructure investment, a future for the Tropicana site as well as solidifying St. Pete as a progressive city moving forward.”

St. Petersburg Communications Director Benjamin Kirby

“Mayor Kriseman has always believed in investing in people, not just places. That’s why his legacy will be one of lifting people up, of building equity, of ensuring we are a city of opportunity for all. Whether it’s raising the minimum wage, helping young people through programs like My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper, lifting families out of poverty, or building a St. Pete Pier for everyone that integrates seamlessly into the city, the people who live, work, and play here will be his lasting legacy. Mayor Kriseman has ushered in a vibrant, exciting new era for Florida’s best city, and I am humbled and honored to be a small part of that progress.”

St. Petersburg City Council Member Gina Driscoll

“Right now it looks like he’ll be known as the Mayor who lost Major League Baseball in our city.”

St. Petersburg City Council Member Darden Rice

“It was Kriseman’s legacy to weaken City Council and it was my legacy to strengthen it.”

Pinellas Democratic Party Chair Lucinda Johnston

“Part of Mayor Rick Kriseman’s legacy can be found in our spectacular pier, our skyline, and even the infrastructure buried under our streets. But the most significant part of his legacy is that he extended the ‘welcome’ we have always shown our visitors to all who live and work here. He made it part of our city’s DNA by doing the most difficult thing possible in a diverse city: he built community.

“Under his leadership, St. Pete earned perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index for our inclusion of LGBTQ people who live and work here. He helped launch a study by USF of systemic racism in St. Petersburg and has embraced their results and call for action. He kept his promise to establish community policing that emphasizes the relationship between police officers and the neighborhood to promote trust and cooperation. For the first time, the LGBTQ flag and Carter G. Woodson flags flew over City Hall in celebration of our diversity and our strength. He promoted religious unity by co-sponsoring community-wide Iftar dinners for Ramadan with the St. Petersburg Islamic Society.

“From hurricanes to housing and small business development to public health crises, Rick Kriseman has shown judicious, thoughtful, courageous and compassionate leadership focused on making St. Petersburg one of the top-rated cities in the U.S. for fiscal health, community engagement and quality of life. We all owe him sincere thanks.”

Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority CEO Brad Miller

“From the very beginning of his first term when he prioritized better transportation and appointed me to his transition team, to now near the end of his time in office when I joined him last week to unveil the region’s first rapid transit station, Mayor Rick Kriseman has demonstrated incredible consistency in his support for improving public transit in creative, sustainable ways. He has been a strong supporter of PSTA’s conversion to zero emission electric buses and innovations like our partnerships with Uber and Lyft or with AVA, our autonomous shuttle. He has embraced the integration of public art in areas including transit — one of St. Petersburg’s defining attributes. Yet Mayor Kriseman’s most far-reaching legacy in transit will be his strong backing of SunRunner, which is under construction in the city and will be the region’s first rapid transit line when it opens in 2022.”

Florida Holocaust Museum Executive Director Erin Blankenship

“I’m sure other cultural organizations would agree that Mayor Kriseman has made strides in raising the profile of our city through his support of its arts and cultural organizations like our many museums and the Warehouse Arts District.”

Duke Energy Florida President Melissa Seixas

“Duke Energy Florida worked closely with Mayor Kriseman to offer clean energy options to benefit those who live, work and visit St. Petersburg. His collaboration helped Duke Energy install new EV chargers, solar on the St. Pete Pier and opened new opportunities with the city’s support of Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Connection Program.”

Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp. CEO J.P. Dubuque

“Mayor Kriseman was one of the driving forces that founded the St. Petersburg Area EDC and has been a great supporter for both the organization and our initiatives in our first 5 years. From providing leadership on our Executive Committee to joining me for business development missions to cities across the country to meeting with leaders from companies who are considering a St. Pete operation to assure them that they will be successful here, Mayor Kriseman has been a valuable part of the organization and our success.”

Artist Chad Mize

“Kriseman has been a huge part of St Pete’s rise as a cultural destination! Not only has he been part of championing the arts community, but also has been an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community. This has great impact on the vibe of St. Pete as a welcoming and warm city. It’s amazing to see the growth of the arts and small business since Kriseman took over, and I am grateful for all he has accomplished!”

Fairgrounds St. Pete CEO Liz Dimmitt

“Mayor Kriseman’s legacy is helping St. Pete grow in a way that also preserves and honors its unique creative spirit.”

freeFall Theater Community Outreach Director Matthew McGee

“Mayor Kriseman was always a champion for the Arts and artists in Tampa Bay. His administration worked tirelessly to support and advocate for the performing arts in St. Pete. Even with two-award winning professional regional theatre companies, a beloved Opera company and many other performance and presenting venues, St. Pete is often mostly associated with the visual arts. Kriseman and his team worked hard to let our community know that the Performing Arts also shine here. Mayor Kriseman was not only an advocate, but you could find him in the audience of many performances throughout the community. That always meant a lot to freeFall and we know we will see him even after his term ends as we continue to grow and thrive in our City of the Arts.”

Historic Kenwood Neighborhood Association President Darrel Gordon

“Mayor Rick Kriseman has always been supportive of Historic Kenwood with our initiatives and projects. He regularly attended our events, such as Founder’s Day (where he cut the cake!), BungalowFest, and General Membership meetings.”

Daniel Figueroa IV

Bronx, NY —> St. Pete, Fla. Just your friendly, neighborhood journo junkie with a penchant for motorcycles and Star Wars. Daniel has spent the last decade covering Tampa Bay and Florida for the Ledger of Lakeland, Tampa Bay Times, and WMNF. You can reach Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected]


4 comments

  • Chris Johnson

    December 28, 2021 at 8:44 am

    Of course all of the musings will be glowing when you only interview Democrats and liberals. How about the fact that the Rays and the city are further apart on negotiations since Kriseman took over. My favorite part of this mayor’s legacy is his green commitment: 1. witnessing city vehicles parked with the engine running for over a half hour, such a green initiative. 2. the elimination of a bike lane on 1st avenues to pay for the Sun-Runner, which I highly doubt will ever be worth the money or the loss of the lane each on 1srt aves. 3. not to mention that this mayor touts the party line on being green but over course drives a gas guzzling SUV. typical liberal – rules are for thee not for me!

  • Edward Lyle

    December 28, 2021 at 9:40 am

    Clowns will be clowns

  • S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    December 28, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    Rick Kriseman did not do much to achieve progress for Americans of African descent. We end his time worse than when he began. I am very disappointed in how he failed the African descent population.

    • steve sullivan

      December 31, 2021 at 12:17 pm

      S. Rose Smith – Hayes, please provide examples of how it is worse?

Comments are closed.


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