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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459


Twitter: @CharlieFrago

  1. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Church fans were passed out as hundreds of people pressed into the room at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church and the temperatures climbed. And that was before the forum began....

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  2. Do you need to vote in city elections to run for mayor of St. Petersburg? Jesse Nevel says no


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel is running for mayor. But, voting records show, he has never cast a ballot in a St. Petersburg city election.

    Nevel, 27, said that won’t matter with voters. He believes many city residents are like him: they’ve never had a candidate worth casting a ballot for.

    “I’m like thousands of other people in this city who see nothing to vote for,” Nevel said. “Most people in this city don’t vote in local elections because there are no options on the ballot that speak to the interests of the people.”...

    Jesse Nevel is running for mayor, but has never voted in a city election
  3. Rick vs. Rick: St. Petersburg sewage crisis edition


    ST. PETERSBURG — For nearly two years, the political stench of a sewage crisis has permeated City Hall.

    The city's dilapidated sewer system has released up to 186 million gallons of waste into Tampa Bay plus local waterways and streets. The crisis started in August 2015 and hasn't stopped. A federal probe ended without criminal charges, but the state investigation is still ongoing. The city also faces an $810,000 fine on top of the tens of millions needed to fix the problems....

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  4. St. Petersburg qualifying ends. Seven for mayor. Eight in primary for City Council District 6 seat


    ST. PETERSBURG — The smiles of the faces of the workers in the City Clerk’s office said it all Friday. The qualifying period for city elections was almost over.

    Officially, it ended at 5 p.m., but City Clerk Chan Srinivasa said a few minutes before that it was already done. To get through all the paperwork a last-minute procrastinator for one of four City Council races or the mayoral contest would have had to arrive at City Hall about 4 p.m., he said....

    City Clerk Chan Srinivasa (2nd left) and Senior Deputy City Clerk  Cathy Davis (1st left) celebrate the end of qualifying period with colleagues on Friday afternoon
  5. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    The vote followed hours of impassioned debate and took place amidst what has already become the most expensive mayoral election in city history: incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and his challenger, former Mayor Rick Baker....

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  6. Only one Rick will march in St. Pete Pride


    ST. PETERSBURG — As the city prepares for the largest LGBT celebration in Florida this weekend, this year's St. Pete Pride parade will march right into the midst of the heated election battle between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker.

    And LGBT residents and political junkies alike will finally learn the answer to a question many have been asking for months:

    Will Baker finally march in Pride, after avoiding it as mayor from 2001-10?...

    Thousands lined the streets of Central Avenue during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg in June 2016. The Pride parade had become an issue in St. Petersburg's mayoral election: incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman will march again in the parade for a fourth time on Saturday, but former mayor Rick Baker will not. Baker did not march when he served as mayor from 2001-10, but said this year he will visit the parade and Sunday's festival. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times]
  7. Kriseman-Baker debate set for July 25 sponsored by the Times, Bay News 9, St. Pete College


    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest mayoral contest in city history is going primetime.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman will debate former Mayor Rick Baker in front of a live television audience July 25 at the Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. The debate is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9 along with the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College....

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, is seen with incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman in this compound image. The two will debate each other in front of a live television audience July 25 at the Palladium Theater. The debate is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9 along with the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College. The hour-long debate will start at 7 p.m. and be moderated by Times Political Editor Adam C. Smith and Bay News 9 anchor Holly Gregory.
  8. As St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman unveils latest budget, some residents fear being left behind


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's election year budget got a mixed greeting Monday night from a large crowd that feared being left behind in a city on an economic roll.

    "We've been fiscally responsible on how we've spent your money," Kriseman told a crowd of more than 100 at the Coliseum in downtown.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Will Rick Kriseman's cautious election-year budget need to be balanced by reserves? Stay tuned...

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (center) shares a laugh while talking with Susan McGrath (left), Chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party, and Christina Diamond during a campaign style stop at Cycle Brewing, 534 on Thursday night. Residents can find out what the mayor's next budget holds at a meeting to be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times] 

  9. Next big fight in St. Petersburg's mayoral race: the science and politics of climate change


    ST. PETERSBURG — As the mayoral race heats up, so has the issue of climate change.

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman is using the global phenomenon to attack former mayor Rick Baker.

    Kriseman, a Democrat, signed a resolution with more than 300 other mayors to uphold the Paris Agreement on climate change after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord on June 1....

    A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from just north of the North Shore Aquatic Complex. The next issue in St. Petersburg's mayoral race is one that is especially important to a waterfront city: climate change. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  10. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman makes his re-election bid official; says city can't afford to go backwards


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman officially qualified to run for re-election Thursday, then dashed to a series of campaign events in his quest for another four-year term.

    The mayor paid the $250 qualifying fee surrounded by family members, then spoke with reporters in the City Clerk’s office.

    “This is just the next step in continuing to move this city forward,” Kriseman said. “This is a great city, but we still haven’t reached that pinnacle yet.”...

    Mayor Rick Kriseman tells supporters at Cycle Brewing that the city needs  to keep moving forward
  11. Do political yard signs matter in St. Petersburg's mayoral election?


    ST. PETERSBURG — Ah, the political yard sign. Usually decked out in some combination of red, white and blue. Sometimes it has a catchy slogan. As Election Day approaches, the signs sprout like mushrooms after a hard rain. After the election, they wilt slowly, lingering for months, a careworn reminder of victory or defeat.

    As St. Petersburg’s mayoral election picks up speed (it’s already shattered fundraising records), the humble yard sign has entered the political discourse via its successor: social media....

    Rick Baker's campaign is all in on yard signs. Kriseman? Not so much.
  12. Baker draws playground count into mayoral battle


    ST. PETERSBURG — As the final T's were being crossed on May campaign donation figures, Rick Baker held another political fundraiser in early June downtown at the historic Princess Martha.

    The former two-term mayor spoke again about his vision of a seamless city uniting Midtown with more prosperous neighborhoods. He promised to partner with failing city schools. He touted his practical environmentalism, highlighting his cleanup of Lake Maggiore during his time as mayor between 2001 and 2010. He vowed to tackle the city's homeless population by working with faith communities like the Catholic Church....

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current candidate for Mayor Rick Baker, left, is seen with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman in this compound image.
  13. Rick vs. Rick: Which St. Petersburg mayor paid the highest salaries at City Hall?


    ST. PETERSBURG — When he announced his bid to return to the mayor's office, Rick Baker bashed incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman for his pricey hiring decisions.

    "Rick Baker never had a spokesman when he was mayor," Baker said when he announced his candidacy May 9 on the steps of City Hall. "Maybe because I didn't have $125,000 to throw away."

    The former mayor was referring to Kriseman's hiring of a mayoral spokesman, Ben Kirby....

    Rick vs. Rick are battling to become St. Petersburg mayor. Former mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right.
  14. Rick Baker has big GOP money behind run for St. Petersburg mayor


    ST. PETERSBURG — A campaign filing late Friday offered a first glimpse behind some of the titans shoveling mountains of cash into the St. Petersburg’s mayoral race, widely assumed to be poised to break all records for campaign spending in the Sunshine City.

    This week, Rick Baker, a former Republican mayor challenging incumbent Democrat Rick Kriseman announced a record-breaking $553,174 haul in three weeks after entering the race on May 8....

    Rick Baker, left, and Rick Kriseman, right, are engaged in what is likely to be the most expensive mayoral race in St. Pete history
  15. City improvements lead to Carillon growth, including Raymond James

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city, working with the state and the private sector, will spend $2.5 million to ease congestion in Carillon business center, prompting Raymond James to expand its operations there.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration announced the news, which is expected to create up to 650 jobs, at the City Council's June 1 meeting, during a newly launched "Good News" segment at the beginning of the council session....

    DAVID W DOONAN   |    Special to Times