Interim Tampa City Council Appointments
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07/19/10 Mark Anderson
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday | Listen to this entire show:

Last month, former Tampa City Council members John Dingfelder and Linda Saul-Sena resigned. The resignations were an attempt to avoid legal challenges caused by late paperwork for their Hillsborough County Commission races. Today the Tampa City Council appointed replacements for the two vacancies.

Yvonne Yolie Capin assumes the District 4 seat once held by Saul-Sena. Curtis Stokes was chosen for District 3, replacing Dingfelder. Both are veteran campaigners. Stokes unsuccessfully ran for Council before, while Capin had a similarly unsuccessful bid for State Representative in 2008. Stokes is involved in numerous non-profit groups, and believes this was a factor in his appointment.

"I've worked for the community by serving in roles of certain large non-profits. I worked as the Chairman of the Board in the American Cancer Society, among the board of Metropolitan Ministries, and as the president of Hillsborough County CP. I've worked with Hillsborough County schools to create a world class fine development program. I'm a strong supporter of community sales tax, rails needed, high speed rail, and light rail. As we've grown from more people to new cities, we will need best in class transportation to attract visitors."

One common theme many applicants focused on was the budget deficit the city is facing for fiscal year 2011. Stokes also believes his extensive experience in banking round out his qualifications.

"I think the city of Tampa faces unprecedented budget issues. I think the 17 years that I spent in banking uniquely qualifies me to hit the ground running, when it comes to those challenges that we face."

Council rules require a majority vote of the 5 remaining members. 66 candidates applied, and today each one was allotted 2 minutes to make their cases before council. Stokes was confirmed after only 3 voting rounds. The voting process didn’t as smoothly for Saul-Sena’s district 4 seat. After 16 rounds of voting, and two recesses, no agreement was reached. Council member Mary Mulhern coached her colleagues on the value of compromise.

"I'd like to feel that my council members would be willing to consider changing their original votes, which I did on the previous candidate. I didn't stick with my first choice because I realized that we had to come to a majority agreement here. I would like to feel that other people would be willing to make that decision."

The deadlock was broken in the 17th voting round with Chapin declared the winner. WMNF asked Mulhern about the efficiency of the interim appointment process.

"I don't know of a better process. I can't think of one that would be better, but I think that it's something for the voters and our constituence to pay attention to what is influencing. I think one obvious thing is that we had 3 individuals today, who have been on the city council before,and they all have gotten some votes. That alone shows the power of incompetency."

The appointees will be sworn in on Thursday and will be in effect from now until normal elections in March 2011. Also today Saul-Sena suspended her County Commission campaign in the latest legal maneuver in defense of a lawsuit filed against her by the County Republican Party. She is expected to re-enter the race after re-nomination from the County Democratic Party.

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