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St. Petersburg leaders react

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001

OMALI YESHITELA, activist and former mayoral candidate: "I have a concern about what it will mean and how it will be perceived that Goliath will be leaving the Police Department, especially following a mayor's race where the issue of his remaining chief was a determining factor in who got elected."

LARRY WILLIAMS, former mayoral candidate and City Council member: "I would say the politics of divide and conquer needs to stop. That might be best done by a national search (for the next chief)."

LORRAINE MARGESON, a community activist who worked on former council member Kathleen Ford's campaign: "I'm really surprised, in light of the vehement statements (on the campaign trail) of keeping the chief as chief. It's rather shocking news.

"How can one person assume such difficult responsibilities for such a long time? Deputy mayor and police chief. That's quite a load."

STEVE MONTGOMERY, president of the Azalea Homes Community Association in northwest St. Petersburg: "I am just very disheartened when I hear you say there are going to be three vice mayors. What are these positions going to be paid? I think Mayor Fischer was a little top heavy."

JIM BIGGERSTAFF, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, on the three appointments to deputy mayor: "It's exactly what I would have done if I had been mayor." He said Davis is well-suited to work on economic development issues because "he is highly thought of in the Challenge area." Michael Palozzi, president, Greater Woodlawn Neighborhood Association: "I think that he (Davis) should have a very good pulse on the community and the Challenge area. Certainly, as the police chief, he has had plenty of experience dealing with the issues that seem to crop up. He's always been a very visible police chief. He should have a very good feel on what the issues are. He steps into it with a resume that already has some tremendous credibility. We will miss him."

CHRISSHUN COX, president of the Melrose-Mercy/Pine Acres Neighborhood Association: "He has really gotten hammered by that Police Department over the years. It was the strong backing of Mayor Fischer that kept him in the Police Department. Without Mayor Fischer, I think it was a wise decision to leave that position. I am glad that Mayor Baker did find a position for him. I am glad he will be working with the Challenge area."

GAYLE SIMS, president, Childs Park Neighborhood Association: "He's done an exceptional job with the Police Department. Maybe he'll be the next mayor in four years."

KARL NURSE, neighborhood activist, former mayoral candidate: "Obviously, I was surprised. To me, Go Davis is the chief of police. I was surprised to hear him as the economic development position. However, I think it does communicate that it is going to be a higher priority than it has been. And I think that's good."

BILL FOSTER, City Council member: "I think they are good moves. I've been assured that these changes in administration will not increase his budget in any way, shape or form, so I'm going to depend on that."

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