Ding-ding-ding! The fight for District 6 has begun!

ST. PETERSBURG — The SEIU’s People’s Budget Review held a local forum Thursday, June 15 at The Sunshine Center so that the nine District 6 candidates could have an opportunity to hear the concerns of the community.

The open forum quickly became a battle royal. Most candidates were fighting in the interest of prime real estate while others were engaged in a vested struggle against police violence and gentrification.

During introductions, it was clear that some candidates did not come to address the people but to sling mud at one another and cover up their recent scandalous conduct.

Corey Givens, Jr. opened by stating, “Many of you already know me and if you don’t know me perhaps you’ve read allegations about me…” He continued sternly, “I’ve addressed it!”

Givens was referencing the recent reports of him putting a $500 campaign donation into his personal account.  He was also referencing the matter in 2012 that brought to light he exaggerated his education while running for the School Board.

Maria Scruggs was visibly nervous as she stated: “I will say to all, this is a race for student…for city council, not student council.” Scruggs was taking an obvious stab at the youngest candidate, 20-year-old Eritha Akile Cainion who was student body president at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School in 2015.

When the floor was given to the citizens, one 30-year-veteran of the school system asked the candidates what they were going to do to protect the students of south St. Pete against police harassment.

One concerned African-American mother said, “I noticed other races get to gather freely without a military police presence at functions, but when black people want to gather we get heavy police presence that resembles Iraq or Afghanistan. So what are y’all going to do to stop that?”

“We need to come up with a strategy to help the homeless,” one woman said.

District 6 Race, featuredA young Gibbs High School student remarked, “Last year Alton Witchard was murdered outside of my house and due to gentrification, a month later my family was forced out of our home. So what are y’all going to do to stop gentrification?”

The crowd consistently presented comments and questions that centered on concerns about police harassment, a failing school system and the attacks from gentrification. A slew of commenters also asked the candidates if they could state their stance on reparations to the black community.

An elderly Caucasian woman said, “I know that our white communities have been systematically built at the expense of the black community, so I need a candidate that supports reparations. Can you speak to that?”

Jesse Nevel, the mayoral candidate running along with Cainion on the platform of unity through reparations, asked the candidates, “What will you do to end the legacy of gentrification, land grabbing and police containment represented by Karl Nurse?”

Sadly, most candidates ignored the plight of the roomful of citizens and continued to mudsling and defend their public image.

Scruggs again referred to 30 years of “proven results” including her work as the president of the NAACP. To prove that she has fought for black interests, Scruggs cited her decision to move the Freedom Fund fundraising dinner from downtown to the black community.

Robert Blackmon, Jim Jackson, Givens, Jr. and James Scott responded that the question was divisive rhetoric, with Scott saying, “I understand my ancestors hurt your ancestors…but now it’s time to hold hands.” Givens, Jr.  replied that it is “unreasonable” and “too radical.”

“Uniting the people means addressing the injustice and oppression faced by our community,” stated Cainion.

The debate was clear from the packed room and the exuberance of the over 200 people that this campaign will define the future of the black community in District 6.

Concerned citizen Jordan Smith, 16, was asked why he thought so many people showed up for the forum. His response was simply: “They say black people don’t vote but the real issue is that black people have never had anything to vote for. Well, now we do.”

The Primary Election is Aug. 29.

One Reply to “Ding-ding-ding! The fight for District 6 has begun!”

  1. Virginia Wilson says:

    It was Eritha Akile Cainion who voiced support for the struggle against police violence and gentrification and she wiped the floor with the other candidates. As 16 year old Jordan Smith said: “They say black people don’t vote but the real issue is that black people have never had anything to vote for. Well, now we do.” We can plainly see that the people of St. Petersburg District 6 know which candidate is on their side. A victory to Eritha Akile Cainion will be a victory for the people!

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