Another candidate in the race for mayor of St. Petersburg has stirred up controversy. Democrat Kathleen Ford is accused of making a potentially racist comment on a shock jock radio show.
Her opponent, Republican Bill Foster, has been criticized for his creationist beliefs and linking the theory of evolution to Adolf Hitler. With all this controversy, St. Petersburg voters should take a more active role in politics if these are the best candidates the city has to offer.
Last week on a radio show, Ford and the host were criticizing Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, saying he should not represent the black community in St. Petersburg.
“Actually, Cornel West has a whole explanation about the HNIC theory, and I agree with that. We don’t need one spokesman for a group,” Ford said.
The acronym HNIC comes from the book “Race Matters” by West, a renowned black professor at Princeton University. It stands for “Head Negro in Charge” but according to the St. Petersburg Times, the N commonly stands for a more racially charged word.
Not everyone is certain if the expression was intended to be racist, but a group of about 30 protesters who gathered at City Hall Monday thought so. These businessmen, community organizers and ministers denounced Ford for her comments.
“We will not accept anyone using racial terms to downgrade anyone,” said Deveron Gibbons, a former mayoral candidate.
Many of those who denounced Ford were already Foster supporters, but her comments likely pushed some to his side.
According to the latest St. Petersburg Times/Bay News 9 poll, Ford barely leads with 39 percent to Foster’s 34 percent of the votes. The poll, conducted last week, surveyed 608 registered St. Petersburg voters.
Though Ford had the edge in the poll, 24 percent of those surveyed were still undecided, and the majority of those were black.
Foster has drawn his fair share of controversy with his rejection of evolution. Some worry he may not promote science in St. Petersburg, and his disdain for evolution seems particularly strong.
Last year, Foster wrote a letter to the Pinellas County School Board encouraging schools to teach other theories alongside evolution. He argued that the theory of evolution inspired the Columbine shooters and Hitler.
Whether or not Foster personally believes in evolution should not matter, but he should have a better understanding of the theory, and his beliefs should not bar students from learning about evolution. Similarly, Ford could have shown more discretion.
According to The Associated Press, former candidate Scott Wagman, who lost the primary election, faces a $250 fine from the Florida Elections Commission for buying a Google ad that did not include a “paid for by” disclaimer.
St. Petersburg voters should demand a higher caliber of candidates, and in an election like this, they should refuse to vote.