Sunday, September 23, 2018
  • Bay Buzz
  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Straz kicks off campaign saying he’ll shake up city government

David Straz Jr. told a crowd at the Cuban Club in Ybor City on Friday evening that he had fielded one question over and over on the campaign trail: Why are you running?

The 75-year-old billionaire philanthropist who made his money in banking said his reasons aren't complicated.

"It's simple: I love Tampa. And someone had to step up and take the job," Straz said.

With Tampa's mayoral election just under seven months away, Straz unveiled a policy initiative in a nascent race that has, so far, been short on substance.

Straz promised to reorganize the city's bureaucracy, grouping six departments—police, fire, neighborhood enhancement, parks and recreation, economic development and minority business development—-into a "Quality of Life Cabinet" that he would gather for personal attention every Monday morning if elected mayor.

"I don't want the focus of city government to be on the government itself. I want the focus to be on the people, families, small business and, most importantly, our quality of life, " said Straz, who spoke for 15 minutes before a raucous crowd that had to be repeatedly reminded to be quiet so that warm-up speakers, including Tampa City Council members Yvonne Yolie Capin and Frank Reddick, could be heard.

Straz said he would meet with his cabinet after dining at Burger King.

"Where I go every morning," he said.

In May, Straz said South Tampa needed help when asked by the Tampa Bay Times which neighborhoods needed attention. On Friday, he spent much of his time driving home his promise to create jobs across the city, especially the predominantly black neighborhoods of East Tampa.

"Minority communities must share fully in our prosperity, Frank," said Straz, addressing Reddick, the council chairman and his most prominent African-American supporter.

Straz also stressed job creation and environmental stewardship, including protecting the city from the effects of climate change.

Straz didn't mention any of his opponents by name, although he did claim he was one of the only candidates *** with experience signing checks. He likely faces former police chief Jane Castor, former county commissioner Ed Turanchik, City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen, small businessman Topher Morrison and political novices LaVaughn King and Sam B. Gibbons in the March 5 election. The qualifying period isn't until January.

Already, Straz has dominated spending in the race, running TV commercials and placing large buys on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. He's has spent more than $1.5 million so far. He has said he'll spend whatever it takes to win.

In his first run for political office, Straz touted the lack of a political resume.

"I'm no politician," he said.

But Straz said he can be the "red-tape cutter in chief and boy I can do that."

*** Editor's Note: This post originally stated the Straz said he was the "only" candidate with experience signing checks for a business. In fact, Straz said "many of them have never signed the front side of a check."

Comments
‘Strippers, Cigars and Gasparilla’: Topher Morrison wants to rebrand Tampa

‘Strippers, Cigars and Gasparilla’: Topher Morrison wants to rebrand Tampa

No one can accuse Topher Morrison of not having ideas.The branding consultant turned political candidate has lots of them. Make Tampa known for its rooftop scene? Yes, and: hold a contest to see who can build an elevator that wraps around a building ...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Hillsborough commission candidates still dancing on sales tax for transportation

Hillsborough commission candidates still dancing on sales tax for transportation

In a Seminole Heights forum last week, only one of four county commission candidates, Kimberly Overman, responded directly to a question about whether they back a proposal for a one-cent sales tax increase for transportation improvements – she'...
Published: 09/21/18
Pinellas commission candidate Amy Kedron loses support from council member and commissioner

Pinellas commission candidate Amy Kedron loses support from council member and commissioner

Pinellas County Commission candidate Amy Kedron has lost a key endorsement from one of the few elected officials who publicly supported her campaign.St. Petersburg City Council member Gina Driscoll said she pulled her endorsement after Kedron told th...
Published: 09/20/18
Updated: 09/21/18
Capin on Buckhorn and Ulele: ‘If it was his bust, he’d light it up.’

Capin on Buckhorn and Ulele: ‘If it was his bust, he’d light it up.’

Tampa City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin blasted Mayor Bob Buckhorn for his administration's decision to remove a bronze bust of Ulele, a mythical Indian princess, from the city's Riverwalk this week.Capin, who has clashed with the mayor over the...
Published: 09/20/18
Tampa City Council approves liquour and rezoning for Stovall House making it private club

Tampa City Council approves liquour and rezoning for Stovall House making it private club

It took nearly 13 hours over three weeks, but developer Blake Casper won City Council approval to convert the historic Stovall House on Bayshore Boulevard to a private club.On Thursday, council members listened to nearly six hours of testimony on the...
Published: 09/20/18
Buckhorn says Tampa City Council playing politics with budget

Buckhorn says Tampa City Council playing politics with budget

Mayor Bob Buckhorn's hot take from watching Monday's City Council budget hearing?"I think, unfortunately, reality met election year politics," said the mayor on Tuesday.The City Council voted unanimously to delay final approval of the city's more tha...
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
DeSantis’s school visit is “not a campaign stop,” Hillsborough district says

DeSantis’s school visit is “not a campaign stop,” Hillsborough district says

Social media this morning was abuzz with questions about gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis's planned 2 p.m. visit to Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy, a public middle school in Hillsborough County.Educators are asking: Wouldn't this be a violatio...
Published: 09/18/18
Bronze bust of Princess Ulele hauled away before dawn from Tampa Riverwalk

Bronze bust of Princess Ulele hauled away before dawn from Tampa Riverwalk

TAMPA — With only a moving crew as witnesses, an 1,800 pound bronze bust of Native American Princess Ulele was hoisted up and hauled away before dawn Tuesday under orders from the city of Tampa.The sculpture was installed in December on ci...
Published: 09/18/18
Tampa City Council rejects Buckhorn budget over health care costs

Tampa City Council rejects Buckhorn budget over health care costs

TAMPA — The city's $1 billion-plus city budget was put on hold Monday evening by a City Council determined to strike a better deal for Tampa employees on health care costs.After a sometimes tense 2 ½ hour hearing, the City Council delayed ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Pinellas commission will let St. Petersburg use some tax dollars to develop Trop site

Pinellas commission will let St. Petersburg use some tax dollars to develop Trop site

The Pinellas County Commission agreed last week to let St. Petersburg direct about $115 million in tax dollars to help redevelop 86 acres around Tropicana Field, regardless if the Rays move to Tampa or not.With a 5-1 vote, the commission approved May...
Published: 09/17/18