Hillsborough Dems regrouping for Tampa city elections
Hillsborough's Democratic state committeeman Allen Clendenin says the city elections in March are the first step in recovering from stunning losses to the GOP on Nov. 2. Speaking at the GLBTA Democratic caucus meeting on Wednesday that featured council candidates, Clendenin said the local elected officials are the future of the party. (City elections are nonpartisan, by the way.) "In Florida you can't run a political organization from the top down," he said. A few token Democrats serving at the top of a pool of Republicans will doom the party, he said, and direction needs to come from the bottom, not a handful of consultants and leaders who "perpetuate the same losing strategies." Clendenin wants to be the next head of the state party. But he said he'll abandon that effort if former state Sen. Rod Smith officially throws his hat in the ring. "He is really a fine, fine gentleman," Clendenin said. Council candidates on hand Wednesday were District 6 hopeful Kelly Benjamin; Lynette Judge and Carrie West, who are running in District 5; Sara Romeo, who's running in District 1; Julie Jenkins, who's seeking the District 4 seat; and Seth Nelson, who's running in District 3. A few highlights of their remarks: Benjamin pointed out that sitting District 6 council member Charlie Miranda, voted against expanding the human rights ordinance to include transgendered people; West said he'd like to see the county bus fleet switch to propane vehicles; Jenkins said the city should beef up its green initiatives to be on par with Sarasota, Gainesville and St. Petersburg; Romeo said there needs to be more inner city redevelopment; Judge promoted using the city's nuisance abatement board to close down businesses that bring crime to neighborhoods; and Nelson talked about the need to address panhandling and consolidate 9-1-1 services.