In March, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor easily defeated a write-in opponent and New Tampa’s District 7 Tampa City Council member Luis Viera was re-elected without opposition to serve four more years, but that doesn’t mean that New Tampa residents have no reason to go to the polls for the City of Tampa Runoff Election on Tuesday, April 25.
In fact, Viera says that much more important than who you vote for is that you need to get out and vote. He says that no matter how hard he is willing to fight on City Council to fulfill — and fund —New Tampa’s needs, our community’s usually lower-than-the-rest-of-the-city voter turnout makes it harder for him to get things done.
“New Tampa has traditionally been considered somewhat apathetic when it comes to voting and that does make it harder for me to get other Council members to support the needs of this community.”
The numbers bear out Viera’s claims of voter apathy. In the 2019 Municipal Election, which included a hotly contested race for Mayor, the citywide turnout was 20.56%, but in New Tampa’s 17 precincts, it was only 16.8%. In the Runoff Election in Apr. 2019, which included the mayoral runoff won by Mayor Castor over David Straz, the turnout was even higher — 23.2% citywide and a reasonable 18.5% across New Tampa’s 17 precincts.
In this year’s Municipal Election, where Castor faced only write-in candidate (and New Tampa resident) Belinda Noah (whose name did not appear on the ballot), the citywide turnout was only 13.65%, but the turnout in New Tampa’s 21 precincts was less than half of that, at only 6.5%.
Viera says that despite the fact that there are only three citywide City Council seats — Districts 1, 2 and 3 (plus the District 6 runoff between current Dist. 2 Council member Charlie Miranda and Hoyt Prindle) — being contested at this year’s Runoff Election, he expects a citywide turnout of about 12%.
Viera says it would be great if New Tampa could beat that percentage at the runoff, and he says everyone should check out the campaign websites and social media pages of each of the six candidates shown on this page and cast votes for those who seem to best align with their own political philosophies.
Here’s a quick rundown of the three races in which New Tampa is eligible to vote:
District 1 — Dr. Sonja P. Brookins vs. Alan Clendenin
Dr. Brookins, a long-time educator, has served two years as an elected supervisor with the Hillsborough Soil & Water Conservation District and has been endorsed by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Tampa Bay.
Clendenin, who has served in multiple positions for Democratic committees (including first vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party), was a long-time air traffic control professional. He has been endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times, La Gaceta and Creative Loafing newspapers, the Tampa Police Benevolent Assn. and Tampa Firefighters 754 union, New Tampa’s State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, the Sierra Club and LGBTQ Victory Fund.
District 2 — Robin Lockett vs. Guido Maniscalco
Lockett is the former president of the Hillsborough Democratic Black Caucus who has been a regular advocate for vulnerable people at City Council meetings, as well as an organizer with the Florida Rising progressive social advocacy group. She has been endorsed by Creative Loafing.
Maniscalco, the two-term Dist. 6 Council member (and current vice chair) who is running in Dist. 2 because of term limits, has been endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times, the Greater Tampa Realtors, Tampa Firefighters 754, the Sierra Club and Equality Florida.
District 3 — Janet Cruz vs. Lynn Hurtak
Cruz, the former State Sen. who lost a tough race to Jay Collins in Nov., has been endorsed by the Tampa Bay Times, Mayor Castor and former Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Hurtak, the Dist. 3 incumbent, has been endorsed by Creative Loafing, La Gaceta, Florida LGBTQ+, Florida Rising, the Tampa Bay Progressive Caucus and Muslims for Democracy & Fairness.
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