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One to run on incumbency

By BRYAN GILMER

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 21, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Among the six St. Petersburg City Council seats up for grabs in the March city election, there is just one incumbent running for re-election: Jay Lasita, who recently filed papers opening a campaign treasury.

Council members Rene Flowers and Bill Foster each have two years remaining in their first terms on the council, but Lasita would be the senior member of the eight-member policy body if re-elected, and he thinks voters should ensure continuity in city government by electing him to a second term.

"We cannot afford to lose what we have gained while new officials are on the learning curve," Lasita said, adding that it took him two years to feel well-versed in the spectrum of issues the council considers. "I've tried to employ integrity in the job. I want to make sure that the city continues to go forward."

The 49-year-old marketing professional took office in 1997 after defeating Jimmy Joe Biggerstaff and several other candidates for the open seat. Lasita says he has found the job challenging, if occasionally frustrating, because of contentiousness that sometimes invades council discussions. He wants to continue his tenure with a new set of colleagues.

"I've enjoyed working with my colleagues for the most part, but the idea of working with a new group of people definitely has its appeal, as the senior member of council to utilize what that might bring to the table," Lasita said. "I've been really concerned about the image of council as an institution. I've tried to be a consensus builder and bridge builder."

If re-elected, Lasita said, he would work to better utilize the city television station. He advocates call-in shows and debate shows on issues of the day, which have been controversial in the past.

Lasita said he also would work to spread the momentum of development downtown west from the new BayWalk entertainment complex. He wants to see the city work hard on the Dome District around Tropicana Field and the Grand Central neighborhood west of there, both areas with revitalization plans.

Lasita, a resident of the Disston Heights neighborhood, represents it and surrounding neighborhoods northwest of downtown. He is married and has two daughters.

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