Quinton F. Robinson says he is not pitting New Tampa against the rest of the City of Tampa’s District 7 in his attempt to unseat current city councilman Luis Viera.
What he says he is saying is this: while Viera has accomplished a lot for New Tampa in his two years on Tampa’s City Council, Dist. 7 needs someone who can do the same for the entire district, and he’s that guy.
“Equity in governance,” Robinson simply says, and it is a prevalent theme on his Facebook page, which uses hashtags like VOTEEquity, BeEmpowered and, naturally, VoteRobinson (on Tampa’s municipal election day — Tuesday, March 5).
Viera is running for his first full term. He has served since 2017, after defeating Jim Davison in a special election to fill the seat of Lisa Montelione, who resigned for a failed attempt to run for the Florida House of Representatives. Viera, with an endorsement from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, defeated Davison in the run-off by 65 votes.
Robinson, 42, says Viera doesn’t have a plan to fix the problems plaguing much of District 7, and is aggressively fighting to win against what many feel are insurmountable odds. Viera, a Hunter’s Green resident, is popular in New Tampa and elsewhere, and extremely active in the area.
He helped spearhead a renewed effort by local political activists and community members in a fight to get the city to approve funding for an addition to the New Tampa Recreation Center and another fire station, as well as designs for a sensory park that would be the first of its kind in Tampa.
Viera has championed more than a dozen local causes, from getting potholes filled to advocating for safer roads, and organized a handful of town halls so residents could engage with city and county leaders.
Robinson — who was born and raised in West Tampa, graduated from Hillsborough High and Florida A&M University in Tallahassee and is the former president of the Hillsborough County Black Caucus — doesn’t dispute any of that. In fact, he says it bolsters his pitch to voters.
“My opponent has made strides for New Tampa, and that’s great for New Tampa,” Robinson says, “but the quality of life could be enhanced throughout North Tampa. Look at his accomplishments. Not one thing has benefited all of North Tampa. My goal is to enhance, educate, empower and elevate all of District 7.”
While Robinson, who has lived with his wife and two children in the University area since 2012, does support line item funding to build a Tampa Police substation in New Tampa, many of his goals are centered around what he feels are the forgotten areas of District 7.
He would like the North Tampa area in and around Sulphur Springs, Busch Blvd. and Fowler Ave. to be designated a Community Redevelopment Area, to reinvigorate the area economically. He favors beautification projects along Nebraska Ave. and Busch Blvd., needed street repairs and the repaving of 30th St. He wants flooding issues in the area addressed.
Robinson also wants a “modernization” of Copeland Park & Community Center, including a kitchen, computer lab, rebuilding of the boardwalk and lighting for the existing trail.
“I just don’t believe the North Tampa community should have to wait another 20 years,” Robinson says. “Unfortunately, that has been the case. Often when people run in this district, they only focus on the area north of Fowler or west of I-275. We need a councilman that is able to build that bridge to all of District 7, not just those in New Tampa.”
Viera bristles at the accusation he has ignored the rest of District 7 because he is preoccupied with delivering for New Tampa.
“There is an old saying – you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts,” Viera says. “I have been active in all parts of the district.”
In fact, he may be the most active member of the current City Council.
One of his first tasks was to create the North Tampa Veterans Association, and he has remained involved in a number of veterans activities and created the Warrior Games Promotion Committee to promote attendance at the 2019 Warrior Games coming to Tampa in June.
In Forest Hills, Viera says he helped organize residents to fight to preserve the Babe Zaharias Golf Course from potential redevelopment threats, and also supported funding for the maintenance of the golf course in the City of Tampa budget. He pushed for more street lighting and updated striping and signs in the area. Like he did with creating the New Tampa Council, to better organize the area neighborhoods, he did the same with the Forest Hills Council. And, he says he worked on facilitating more than $1 million for the Forest Hills Community Center, as well as flood mitigation improvements.
Not to mention, he adds, the six town halls he hosted in the area.
Along Busch Blvd. and Fowler Ave., he says he promoted a number of safety improvements in what he calls a “corridor of neglect,” helped organize a Hurricane Prepardedness Task Force to help with post-hurricane relief efforts in North Tampa communities, secured funding in the City of Tampa budget for additional lights at Copeland Park, is working on a formal crosswalk for Chamberlain High students on North Blvd., north of Busch Blvd. and has championed other safety projects and improvements on area roads.
“I have to remind people sometimes that I’ve only been in office for two years,” Viera says.