The Tampa Tribune has a decent breakdown of the various races. Here is a re-cap with my predictions.
Mayor Pam Iorio faces opposition, technically. She will coast to re-election. Personally, I like Marion “Serious” Lewis, a former police captain, but the position of mayor needs more political experience. My message to him: Captain Lewis needs to run for city council in four years. I expect Iorio will get at least 75%, maybe closer to 80.
There are two city-wide district races that are both interesting in their own right.
In District 1, incumbent (and long-time) Councilwoman Gwen Miller drew a boatload of opponents. Julie Jenkins, Rick Barcena, Denise Chavez, Randy Baron, and Joe Redner. While I think Redner would at least make the City Council meetings worth watching, I think Randy Baron and Gwen Miller will face each other in a run-off. Baron, because of the Trib and Times endorsements (and because he is first on the ballot), and Miller because she has a strong following and name ID.
In District 2, Councilman Shawn Harrison is switching districts from the North Tampa District 7 to the city-wide seat. He faces Mary Mulhern, who lost a bid for County Commission in 2006. The tea leaves here are hard to read: South Tampa trended slightly Democratic in 2006, and the Republican stronghold of New Tampa just doesn’t vote in city elections. That bodes well for Mulhern. Yet, she remains an unknown outside of South Tampa, where she ran in 2006. West Tampa, East Tampa, Seminole Heights, and Forest Hills will be the deciding factor in this race, and I think Harrison pulls it out.
In the single-member districts, 4-7, there are interesting facets in each.
“Downtown” Julie Brown (sidebar: makes me want to say ‘wubba wubba wubba‘) and Joe Citro are challenging incumbent Councilman John Dingfelder in District 4. Dingfelder showed his true colors by askig a constituent for a campaign contribution while discussing official city business. Brown, however, has been supported through $20,000 raised from a car dealer. While neither of these things are really wrong, they just don’t pass the sniff test to some voters. I have heard from those in the know that Dingfelder’s camp is resigned to lose the race. I think that is true, and like her billboards say, South Tampa will “send Julie Brown Downtown”.
Former County Commissioner Tom Scott is running in District 5 against ‘Tracee’ Judge and Councilman Frank Reddick, who was appointed to finish Kevin White’s term when White was elected to the Scott’s County Commission seat. This East Tampa race is almost as easy to predict as the Mayor’s race – Reverend Scott will return to the public pulpit.
In District 6, former Councilman Charlie Miranda is taking on the overwhelmed Lisa Tamargo. She deserves some credit for staying in the race despite Miranda’s return to city politics. Outgoing Councilwoman Mary Alvarez supports Tamargo, which will help narrow the gap. I think Miranda’s previous service will be enough to win this West Tampa seat.
Finally, in the North Tampa race for District 7, Frank Margarella and Joseph Caetano are working hard, and Charlie Perkins is running a stealth campaign. The newspapers both endorsed Frank Margarella along with the Tampa Bay Builders Association, but virtually other organizations – police, firefighters, unions, realtors, etc – endorsed Caetano. Margarella also has some questionable campaign expenses – another issues that doesn’t pass the sniff test. I think this is Caetano’s election, and he will bring a breath of fresh air to the City Council.
The results will come out tonight, fairly quickly since the turnout will be less than an American Idol audition.
If you haven’t voted yet, and you live in the City of Tampa – go vote! Polls are open until 7:00pm.