Donald Bowens lands all star endorsements in St. Pete City Council bid
Image via Donald Bowens

Donald Bowens
'As our city faces exciting changes that bring very big challenges, we need more than ever City Council members who exemplify leadership by listening to constituents and who act with transparency and courage.'

St. Petersburg City Council candidate Donald Bowens has secured several new endorsements in his bid for the open District 7 seat.

City Council member Copley Gerdes, former City Council members Darden Rice, Jeff Danner and Frank Peterman, former NBA player Marreese Speights, and former NFL wide receiver Louis Murphy Jr. are all lending their names in support of Bowens’ bid.

“Donald Bowens represents the next generation of leadership in our community. He has the passion and the ability to serve well on the City Council,” said Peterman, who served on the City Council in the late ’90s.

Rice, who served two terms on the Council before running unsuccessfully for Mayor in 2021, praised Bowens as a candidate who would listen to constituents.

“As our city faces exciting changes that bring very big challenges, we need more than ever City Council members who exemplify leadership by listening to constituents and who act with transparency and courage,” Rice said. “Donald Bowens is that candidate and I am happy to support him.”

Bowens is running for the seat currently held by John Muhammad, who was appointed in late 2022 after former District 7 Council member, Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, came under scrutiny for violating residency requirements after moving out of her district. Muhammad is not seeking election to the seat.

Danner represented residents in and around the historic Kenwood area in District 8 in the early 2000s. He won elections in 2005 and 2009, but lost a comeback bid in 2021. He said he was supporting Bowens because he would bring “a fresh and level-minded approach to the challenges facing District 7 and the city as a whole.”

“With record-breaking construction, housing, zoning, infrastructure and character-changing growth, I am confident Donald will address these issues with a comprehensive and deliberate process,” Danner added. “These are not easy decisions and cannot be taken lightly or offhandedly.”

Bowens is a graduate of St. Pete High School, where he excelled as a football player, and later attended North Carolina State on an athletic scholarship.

He was inducted into St. Pete High’s Hall of Fame in 2022. At N.C. State, he earned recognition as a Top Newcomer to the school’s football program.

So it’s no surprise that he is attracting support from fellow athletes.

“I won an NBA championship through hard work and determination. In my private life, I champion youth initiatives such as literacy programs and sports camps to help build character and open doors for the next generation. I know what it takes to be a champion and Donald Bowens is a champion for our city and will build on our generation’s success to give us all a stronger future,” said Speights, who played for the University of Florida in 2006-07 when the Gators landed a national championship.

Speights also played in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Orlando Magic. Toward the end of his career he played for the Guangzhou Loong Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association. He played in high school at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Pete, as well as for Gibbs High School.

Murphy, who also played for the University of Florida on their football team, was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2009 and later played for the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers. He praised Bowens for their shared value of hard work learned through football.

“With these traits combined with his genuine care for our community and roots in our city, he is the ideal candidate to bring positive change,” Murphy said.

Bowens now works in health care management, including former roles as director of operations at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital, HCA Florida Northside Hospital and HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital.

He also is a youth coach and director of his family’s charitable foundation, The Melville Foundation.

Bowens is running on a platform to create economic opportunity for all, enhance affordable housing, particularly for the city’s most vulnerable residents, and to establish robust access to youth programs.

Bowens so far faces former City Council member Wengay Newton and restaurateur Daniel Soronen.

He has already secured endorsements from state Sen. Darryl Rouson and the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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