Accidental First Lady:
On the front lines (and behind the scenes) of local politics

By Kerry Kriseman

One Sunday evening, a friend asked if he could stop by. Over a bottle of wine – I don’t remember if it was red or white – he suggested that my husband, Rick Kriseman, should run for the St. Petersburg City Council.
That conversation changed the course of our lives. Six years on the City Council led to six years in the state House of Representatives and then two four-year terms as mayor of Florida’s fifth largest city. That conversation led to eight elections and 22 years in public life for Rick – and for me, the accidental first lady of St. Petersburg, a life on the front lines and behind the scenes of local politics.


Meet the Author

Kerry Kriseman


     Kerry Kriseman is a St. Petersburg native. She was born in St. Anthony’s Hospital, the same hospital where her grandmother was an OB/GYN nurse and where her daughter was born. Kerry is a graduate of University of South Florida with a B.A. in Mass Communications/Broadcasting.

     Her professional career spans 30 years with a 10-year stint in between, raising her two children (Jordan, 23, and Samuel, 18), volunteering in the community and serving on multiple non-profit boards.

     Kerry worked in print media for the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) in various positions in the Newsroom and Marketing Department.  When her youngest child Samuel began Kindergarten in 2008, Kerry joined Creative Clay as the public relations manager. The non-profit creates equality through art with programs for individuals with neuro-differences.

     Kerry and her family are volunteer puppy raisers for Southeastern Guide Dogs. They are now raising their 12th guide dog puppy in training, Irwin. Five of the pups raised are working guides. One is a Gold Star Family Dog. Two are beloved family pets. Another was designated a Southeastern Guide Dog Ambassador, the remaining two are Kriseman family pets.

     Despite its challenges, Kerry has enjoyed being a political spouse to her husband throughout his 22-year political career. For the past seven years, she has enjoyed being an “accidental first lady” of St. Petersburg, Florida. Historical dramas, traveling, scratch cooking, drinking wine, daily walks, and long bike rides on the Pinellas Trail fill any free time.

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