City Council Forum: District 7

Bill Sharpe of asked me to serve on a panel for a debate between District 7 City Council candidates Frank Margarella and Joseph Caetano. The debate was broadcast live over the internet, and can be watched at the Tampa Gold website.

Unfortunately, Joseph Caetano did not show up and did not call desipte his earlier confirmation that he would participate. Sharpe indicated that he soke with Caetano shortly before the debate began, and that Caetano was not feeling well and would not be attending. Tommy over at Sticks of Fire, did not feel this was appropriate for a candidate. Both Bay News 9 and the Tampa Tribune were in attendance, so Caetano was unable to get some “earned media” either.As a result, Mr. Margarella had the whole hour to himself to answer some rather probing questions from the panel.
First, I should say up front – and did at the forum – that I helped Sen. Victor Crist write a letter in support of Caetano’s campaign, but have not personally supported either candidate. I did think that Caetano would win the primary, despite both papers ‘ endorsement of Margarella.The questions covered a range of topics, from integrity of neighborhoods, to challenging the mayor, to developing a regional approach to some issues such as transportation. In a lot of his answers, Margarella talked about the need to plan – which makes sense. He also talked about the need to study some issues, and to develop consensus on others. To be sure, he does have opinions on specific issues – such as support for the Community Investment Tax, striking a balance between the interests of developers and neighborhoods, bringing the City Council meetings to the people throught regional meetings, etc.

After this question and answer session – it can’t really be called a debate any more – I can see why the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times would endorse Margarella. His personality is certainly less confrontational than Caetano’s. But then, he could add to the mamby-pamby City Council already in place.

Will anyone watch the forum? Does it make a difference that this service was offered via the Internet? I am not quite certain – especially since Tampa Gold isn’t posting it to YouTube. (“Any use of this video without the approval of Tampa Marketing Company is prohibited.”)

I deeply appreciate the invitation to participate and hope we can do more of this kind of thing in the future. And I hope the voters in North/New Tampa will watch.

Photos by Jonathan – Sticks of Fire photographer/contributor

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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4 Responses to City Council Forum: District 7

  1. voxpopuli says:

    Hey I don’t know ANY of these people but I DO KNOW that when someone is sick — they are SICK. AND, from what I’ve recently read about Chicago it’s an old hat trick to poison a guy so he won’t show up at important functions. Yes, I find that rather appalling but it’s right on the Chicago lege website … apparently a point of pride for that uniquely governed city.
    Anyway, I don’t think anyone should be too hard on anyone at this forum . .. it’s not THAT important !

  2. Mr. Bill says:

    Jim, Thanks for participating in our forum. You asked some great questions.

    Re: youtube posting. Due to time limits provided by youtube the forum cannot be posted in its entirety. As such, we will not post the forum there.

  3. Mr. Bill says:

    Additionally, sick or not, a candidate with campaign workers, that had confirmed an online broadcast with his opponent should have called or had someone call to let us know that they would not attend. Mr. Caetano had my cell number to call at any time. With any notice we would have gladly rescheduled.

    I assure you we did not hold his feet to the hot coals and force him to agree to attend.

  4. Jim Johnson says:


    Thank you again for inviting me to participate.

    I know you can’t post an hour-long video on You Tube… but you can post highlights or snippets.

    It seems to me that if you truly believe in the power of the Internet to educate voters, you would use every means possible to distribute the information… and posting snippets on YouTube can drive more traffic back to…

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