Bill Sharpe of TampaGold.com 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