District 4 City Council candidate Darden Rice spoke Tuesday night at Cassis in downtown St. Petersburg about one of her first experiences in politics 21 years ago.
She recalled reaching out to newly elected Florida state legislator Charlie Crist about an offshore drilling ban.
Unable to speak with him, Rice said she left a message thinking she would hear nothing more. To her surprise, however, Crist called her back to thank her for taking the time to call him and say he supported banning offshore drilling.
Tuesday night, the former Republican governor turned out to help Rice again a fundraiser for her campaign for District 4.
"I think that Darden is incredibly special," Crist said Tuesday night.
Crist, a long-time St. Pete resident, said Rice’s work as president of the League of Womens voters and what she has done in civic organizations over the years "really proves her dedication to this community and this city."
Local blogger and host of Tuesday night's fundraiser Peter Schorsch said if St. Pete had to start over and choose eight new city council members, Rice would be his No. 1 choice.
"I don’t think there’s anybody in this town — other than my favorite mayor, Rick Baker — who understands people and policy as well as Darden Rice," Schorsch said. "She is a galvanizer of the human spirit."
Rice said with jobs, the economy, transportation and neighborhoods as the top issues on her platform, she is getting a wide array of support as she moves forward but knows her campaign has a long way to go until the Aug. 27 primary and the November general election.
"We are working hard, but I am not taking anything for granted," Rice said. "I am competing against myself to work harder every day. We simply can’t risk my major opponent being someone who would be in public office. It would be the worst thing for this city."
Rice's District 4 challengers include Carolyn Ann Fries and Dr. David McKalip.
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