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Neighborhoods atop candidate's list

By BRYAN GILMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Abdul Karim Ali has decided to try again for the seat on the St. Petersburg City Council.

He ran for election to the seat in 1989 but lost. Last month, he sought appointment to the seat to fill a temporary vacancy, but the City Council chose Earnest Williams instead.

But the 54-year-old Ali is running for the seat again in the upcoming city election, believing that he could help complete important work begun to improve many city neighborhoods, especially those in District 6, between downtown and Lake Maggiore.

"I really support the effort and attention that has been given to the neighborhoods throughout the city," Ali said. "I have concerns about completing the task."

While many neighborhoods across St. Petersburg look nice, others need basic services from the city, Ali said.

"The infrastructure, paving the streets, lighting," Ali said, when asked what needs work. On many streets, something as simple as trimming trees away from street lights would help, he added.

"We talk about safe neighborhoods," he said. "A lot of these conditions lead to neighborhoods that are not safe."

Ali sees a disconnect between some commercial districts and their surrounding neighborhoods in the southern half of the city.

"We need better relationships," he said. "Business leaders and neighborhood leaders need to air out their differences."

He added that he would work to begin that discussion if elected.

Ali is married and lives in the Lakewood neighborhood. A shipping clerk by trade, he has chaired the city's Planning Commission and has served on the Historic Preservation Commission and the Community Alliance.

City Council members recently chose Williams as the temporary replacement for the resigning Frank Peterman from a field including him, Ali and seven others.

Now Ali is the first of those hopefuls to open a campaign treasury to seek election to the seat. Dwight "Chimurenga" Waller did not seek the appointment but is also running for the seat.

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