Four of seven Tampa City Council seats head to a runoff
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03/02/11 Kate Bradshaw
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District 6 incumbent Charlie Miranda won his race against Kelly Benjamin.


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

Tampa voters also weighed in on seven city council seats yesterday, and several races will face a runoff later this month.

District 2 Council Member Mary Mulhern had two opponents in her bid for reelection to the citywide seat, and still got more than half the votes. The two other council candidates who prevailed without having to face a runoff are District 5 Council member-elect Frank Reddick and District 6 incumbent Charlie Miranda. Mulhern and her supporters watched the returns come in from a South Tampa eatery. Even as preliminary results showed she was the clear frontrunner, she didn’t want to speak too soon. Instead, she reflected on some of the unusual characteristics of the election.

District 1 hopefuls Mike Suarez and Curtis Stokes are headed for a runoff. Stokes was appointed to the District 3 seat to replace Linda Saul-Sena, who had left office to run for County Commission. Suarez, former head of the Hillsborough Democrats, received endorsements from both the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. Speaking to WMNF at a bar and grill situated on Tampa’s eastern riverfront, Suarez said his campaign was rather expecting the results of the five-candidate race to turn out the way they did.

Suarez said his campaign’s biggest concern is that his opponent may have more means of raising funds over the short period of time each candidate has to do so.

Meanwhile, Council member Curtis Stokes was celebrating his entry into the runoff at a restaurant on the Hillsborough River’s western bank. He said his campaign will remain on-message.

Taking a page out of the 2010 conservative playbook, Stokes calls himself a fiscal conservative and said that’s the key difference between himself and his opponent in the runoff.

Several candidates in their mid-thirties ran for various council seats, though none was able to win or even eek out a spot in the runoff. Twenty-seven-year-old Michael Ciftci was one of these. He came in fifth in the race for City Council’s at-large District 3 seat. Interim District 4 Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin and former County Commissioner Chris Hart are headed to a runoff for that citywide seat. Capin was appointed to the District 4 seat John Dingfelder vacated it last year in pursuit of a County Commission seat. Ciftci, who was running for the first time, said this probably isn’t the last Tampa will be seeing of him or any of the other young candidates.

Two other Tampa City Council seats are headed for runoffs. Environmental activist Julie Jenkins faces lawyer Harry Cohen in the race for the District 4 seat, which comprises much of south Tampa. The race for the District 7 seat, which represents New Tampa residents at City Hall, will have a runoff between Charles Perkins and Lisa Montelione. Incumbent District 7 Council member Joseph Caetano did not make it into the runoff in the five-candidate race.

The runoff will be March 22.

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