Voters in St. Petersburg and Lakeland, Florida elected new mayors on Tuesday. “Winter” the dolphin also will get a new home in Clearwater. Former city councilman Rick Kriseman defeated incumbent Mayor Bill Foster to become St. Petersburg’s new mayor in January. In Lakeland, City Commissioner Howard Wiggs won over incumbent Mayor Gow Fields.
Clearwater voters approved a charter amendment that paves the way for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to move to a new location. The amendment allows Clearwater city officials to lease the downtown City Hall property and abutting property to the aquarium for 60-years. However, the aquarium must raise money to build its new home at the new location.
In St. Petersburg, 31.38% of the registered voters cast ballots.
Bill Foster (Rep) — 23,412 — 44.09%
Rick Kriseman (Dem) — 29,687 — 55.91%
In Lakeland, there was a high voter turnout of 22%. Mayor Fields received 6,221 votes or 47.65%. Commissioner Wiggs received 6,834 votes or 52.35%. Mayor-elect Wiggs plans to address the Lakeland Police sex scandal and shakeup City Hall leadership. Wiggs was critical of the mayor’s handling of the mess at the Lakeland Police Department and not firing Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack.
Here are the Clearwater Charter Amendment results:
Yes — 9,429 — 54.87%
No — 7,754 — 45.13%
Democrats have been gaining ground in voter registration and key political offices in Pinellas, Polk and Hillsborough counties. There are more registered Democrat voters than Republican voters in all three I-4 corridor counties of Florida.
In the New Jersey and Virginia governors’ races, Republican incumbent Chris Christie was re-elected, but Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Americasvoiceonline.org and Asian Pacific Islander Vote.Org report Latino voters supported McAuliffe over Cuccinelli by a 66%-29% margin. Asian voters supported MacAuliffe by a 63% – 34% margin.
Latino and Asian voters rewarded New Jersey Governor Christie, who supports immigration reform with citizenship and endorses the New Jersy Dream Act. Christie also spent heavily on Spanish language television, radio and mail. In Virginia, Republican Cuccinelli’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and record turned off Latino and Asian voters in Tuesday’s election.