Jun 23, 2021 - News

What's driving Torry Nelson's longshot bid to become St. Pete mayor

A screenshot from the mayoral debate. Photo: YouTube, via Bay News 9 and the Tampa Bay Times

Torry Nelson admits he's made mistakes, and that's why he wants to be mayor of St. Pete.

State of play: "I don't have a squeaky clean background," he said during Tuesday's mayoral debate.

  • He's running a longshot bid, considering he's never held political office and has no party affiliation, but he told Axios that his run-ins with the law are what drove him to politics.
  • "America is a home of second chances. I think the voters won't look at my past as a deterrent. It prepared me better to understand the community," he said.

The backdrop: Nelson, who filed his paperwork to run just a day before the deadline, told Axios that he's open about his criminal history.

  • His charges include cocaine trafficking in 2007, battery in 2002 and robbery in 1994 alongside various traffic and low-level possession charges.
  • Nelson was most recently arrested for domestic felony battery on Jan. 5, 2020, after the mother of his children accused him of hitting her in the face, according to the arrest report. Nelson denies that the fight got physical. The charges were never prosecuted.
  • Zoom out: Nelson went to St. Petersburg College and played football at Henderson State in Arkansas before returning to the city. He attempted to walk on with the Pittsburgh Steelers by literally walking into their practice.

What he stands for: Nelson introduced himself in the debate by saying he wants to start programs to restore the city's natural resources and implement early intervention programs to curb gun violence.

  • He said he spent the pandemic helping friends and family in need apply for relief funds.
  • He attributed the city's rise in gun violence to "rap music and illicit drug sales," saying, "We can't stop the rap music, so we've got to bring ... more jobs for youth."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Tampa Bay stories

Tampa Baypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Tampa Bay.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more