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Mayoral bid enlists Fischer ally
By BRYAN GILMER
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 6, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- All three times he was elected mayor, David Fischer turned to veteran political strategist Mary Repper to run his campaign.
But in St. Petersburg's March 2001 mayoral race, Repper will represent someone else -- Karl Nurse, a neighborhood activist and city Planning Commission chairman who said Monday that he will make his first run for the office.
That raises the question: Has Fischer decided not to seek another term?
Fischer did not return calls to City Hall and his home Monday seeking an explanation about Repper's move to another camp. Last week, asked if he would seek re-election, he said, "I don't know; I'll be making that decision soon."
Repper confirmed Monday that she has agreed to work for Nurse, 45, whom she called a friend of nearly 30 years. She said she doesn't know if Fischer will run.
"Dave is notorious for making his mind up late," she said. "Last time, it just about drove me to drink."
Perhaps also noteworthy: A supporter of Fischer in previous campaigns, Florida International Museum chairman and former St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce chairman Rick Baker will likely run for the office himself.
Fischer, who will be 67 by Election Day, had retired from his career at municipal bond firms when he decided to run in 1991. He won re-election in 1993.
After arson and violence following a police shooting in 1996, Fischer sought and won re-election in 1997 and has focused on helping the areas where the trouble occurred.
Besides Baker and Nurse, City Council Chairman Larry Williams has said he intends to run for mayor.
"(Nurse is) obviously pretty serious about running if he's hired who he's hired," said Williams, 55.
Nurse ran for City Council in 1993, losing to David Welch. He has been active in his neighborhood association and is president of Bay Tech Label. In the mid-1970s, Nurse was an aide to Democratic state Rep. Tom R. Moore.
Like Fischer, Nurse is no firebrand. He said he would focus on revitalizing the city's older neighborhoods -- and thus seek cooperation between homeowners and nearby business districts.
Repper said the city has enough firebrands already, on the City Council.
"Working on the neighborhoods, with neighborhood associations, on that planning board, those are the kinds of things where he's had to get consensus," she said. "He's not ego-driven."
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.