Tampa decides in 24 hours by Mitch E.Perry

WMNF Drive-Time News Friday

The polls for Tampa’s municipal elections will open up at 7AM tomorrow.  Tampa’s Mayor and 6 of the 7 City Council seats will be up for election, in what pollsters say could be one of the lowest turnouts in Tampa history. 


Part of that could be attributed to the Mayor’s race, where Pam Iorio is considered to have an easy shot at re-election.  Two African American former city employees  - Police Lieutenant Marion Serious Lewis, and Fire Chief Aria Green, are running against the Mayor. 


Patrick Mantiega is the editor and publisher of La Gaceta, the weekly Tampa newspaper.

He attributes a couple of factors for the perceived low turnout (roll tape#1 o.q.”to drive people out”)


In the City Council races, the most interesting race could be in District One, where incumbent Gwen Miller faces several challengers. The best known name is adult club entrepreneur Joe Redner.  But there’s also Seminole Heights activist Randy Baron, who has been endorsed by both the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times, There’s also restaurant owner Rick Barcena, and businesswomen Denise Chavez, and Julie Jenkins.


Patrick Mantiega is predicting Barcena will end up in a run-off with Gwen Miller

(roll tape# 2.o.q.”West Tampa”)


The current issue of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing features Joe Redner on the cover with the  title, “Redner: Can He win?”  Democratic Political consultant Victor DiMaio says it might make for a good story, but he’s not certain it will happen this time, either, (roll tape#3 o.q.”he owns a strip club”)


In District 2, upstart Mary Mulhern has been vastly outspent by former New Tampa Councilman Sean Harrison, now running for a City wide seat.  Harrison has raised over $211,000 a record…While Mulhern has spent only $23,000.  


Harrison has blanketed the cable networks over the last week airing a television ad, somewhat of a rarity in local politics.  Political consultant Vic DiMaio says it’s NOT a good use of campaign funds (roll tape#3 “a whole new ball game for him”)


But Mulhern has received the newspaper endorsements – and Tampa does have more registered Democrats than Republicans.  Again, Patrick Mantiega (roll tape#4 o.q.”a

“If she does, she wins”)


District 3 – longtime Councilwoman Linda Saul Sena did not get an opponent, so she there’s no election there. 


District 4 is the most contested race….South Tampa incumbent John Dingfelder and challenger Julie Brown have raised around $150,000…Julie Brown’s ran radio commercials…that’s not unique, but she’s had the benefit of a 3rd party…what are sometimes called 527 groups running ads by so called independent groups..

 An attack ad against Dingfelder started appearing in South Tampa mailboxes last week, paid for by the group calling itself  Election Watch Florida, a political organization run by Jack Herbert, head of Clearwater-based political consulting firm The Mallard Group.…Again, Patrick Mantiega(roll tape#4 o.q.” or whomever”) District 5 sees Frank Riddick, named to the Council as an interim replacement late year, running for re-election if you will against longtime County Commissioner Tom Scott and newcomes Tracy Judge. We’ll have more on this race in a moment.
District 6, west tampa…Longtime Councilman Charlie Miranda, back after an unsuccessful run for Mayor in 2003, faces newcomer Lisa Tamargo.  Political consultant says Miranda, a heavy favorite in this race, will bring extensive knowledge back to the Council (roll tape#5 o.q.”win that race”)

And in New Tampa, District 7, Frank Margarella faces Joseph Cataeno and the man formerly known as White Chocolate in the Cable access wars with Ronda Storms, Charles Perkins. 


Last month the Tampa Tribune reported that there appeared to be discrepancies in Margarella’s fundraising reports.  A complaint was filed against him last week with the Florida Elections Commission, alleging possible campaign finance improprieties  


Vic DiMaio says like the District 1 race, this election could very well end up going into a run off  (roll tape#8 o.q.” and Margarella”)

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