March 1, 2024

Tampa Bay Times

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Mike Harting, co-founder and CEO of 3 Daughters Brewing, has joined the already crowded race for the District 3 St. Petersburg City Council seat representing parts of the peninsula, citing a need for council member with a business background.

He’s running for the seat being vacated by term-limited Ed Montanari, who is running for state House, along with four other candidates who represent a range of ideologies.

Harting, a first-time candidate for office, said in an interview that he’s wanted to run for 20 years and has reached the right stage in his personal and professional life. The youngest of the three daughters for whom the brewery is named is now in high school.

He said Montanari’s seat opening up presented the right opportunity.

“His business savvy will be missed and it creates an opening I think I can fill,” Harting said.

“I’ve spent my career in the private sector,” building his company “from an idea into a statewide entity with 90 employees. That learning curve I went through is very applicable” to city business, he said.

He said in a news release he favors reducing taxes and fees and “streamlining government regulations” to attract new businesses, while protecting the environment and “making improvements to our aging infrastructure.”

Harting, 54, who lives in Placido Bayou, moved with his family to St. Petersburg in 1977. A former restaurateur, he opened the brewery in 2013 along his wife Leigh and chef Ty Weaver, who became brewmaster. Weaver died last year in a motorcycle crash, mourned by craft beer fans.

The brewery now sells beer and other beverages statewide and has satellite tasting rooms in Clearwater Beach and the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.

Two other District 3 candidates feature backgrounds running businesses — restaurateur Pete Boland and Treasure Island-Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce President Barry Rubin.

Also running are affordable housing and tenants’ rights activist Nicholas Carey and sales executive Juan Lopez Estevez, who’s backed by establishment Democrats including former Mayor Rick Kriseman.