A Quick Guide to the Responsibilities of the St. Petersburg City Council

The primary and general elections for St. Petersburg City Council are coming our way sooner than you think.

Fifteen candidates are running for the four City Council seats available in Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7, up for election in the Aug. 27 primaries. The top two vote-getters in each district will be on the ballot for voting on Nov. 5.

Which means it’s time for a primer on precisely what the City Council does for our city. Some basic facts:

  • The council is made up of eight members, with one chair.
  • As candidates, they must remain nonpartisan throughout the election process.
  • They are elected by residents of the district they represent.
  • They hold four-year terms.
  • Elections are held on different years for the odd- and even-number districts.

St. Petersburg City Council: Powers and Responsibilities

The St. Petersburg City Council is responsible for creating the laws and policies in our city that affect the daily lives of its residents, including the ability to levy taxes, the rejection or approval of mayoral appointees and passing local ordinances like the ban of single-use plastics. That’s why it’s essential to get to the polls or mail in your ballot on time so your voice in local issues is heard.

Once elected, council members interact daily with their constituents and others involved in city government on a wide range of topics. The Council conducts bi-weekly meetings, open to the public and at which the public is welcome to speak, at the City Hall Council chambers* in downtown St. Pete.

Agenda items can cover topics as broad as renovation progress of city buildings, housing initiatives, ordinance changes, financial planning and contracts, zoning issues and infrastructure development, among others.

Some recent much-discussed examples include the rebuilding of the downtown Tampa Bay waterfront pier, establishment of goals to mitigate noise from mechanical equipment and street performers, and of course the single-use plastics ban.

The council also meets monthly with the Citizen Advisory Committee, created in conjunction with the City Council and the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners. This nine-member group is responsible for giving input on the South St. Pete Community Redevelopment Plan, a 30-year plan for the economic revitalization of South St. Pete, for which the Council oversees financial decisions.

In addition, the council offers young residents summer internships and holds monthly citizen award ceremonies.

*Due to the renovation of City Hall, as of July 2019 meetings will be scheduled at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N.

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