Suarez, Strepina, Nelson, Meyers, Reddick and Caetano snag prized Tampa firefighter endorsements
TAMPA — The union for Tampa's firefighters Tuesday awarded its endorsements to incumbent City Council member Joseph Caetano, former Tampa City Council member Frank Reddick and four business and legal professionals running for City Council.
Unlike the police union, however, Tampa Fire Fighters No. 754 did not announce an endorsement in the mayor's race. That's because the union did that six months ago, throwing an early and key piece of political support to former Tampa City Council member Bob Buckhorn.
In City Council races, the firefighters union endorsed:
• Former Hillsborough County Democratic Party head and insurance salesman Mike Suarez for the citywide District 1 seat.
• Scott Strepina, who oversees business development efforts for The Print Concierge in Ybor City, for the citywide seat in District 2.
• Family law attorney Seth Nelson, who has served on the city's Variance Review Board and City Council budget advisory committee, for the citywide seat in District 3.
• Dennis Meyers, a former Navy reservist who is now a lawyer with a civil litigation practice, in District 4, which covers South Tampa.
• Reddick, the president of the Sickle Cell Association of Hillsborough County, in District 5, which covers East Tampa. Reddick was appointed to the council in 2006, but lost a 2007 election to hold the seat to current Tampa City Council chairman Thomas Scott.
• Caetano, a hair salon owner and former police officer, in District 7, which covers New Tampa.
The union's executive board decided the endorsements on Monday after interviewing the candidates on issues that included public safety and the city's budget.
"They're all supporters of public safety and we feel we can work with each and every one of them," said Jace Kohan, the union's secretary-treasurer.
In Tampa political circles, the endorsement of the firefighters union is especially prized not only because of the group's public safety credentials, but because firefighters have a record of taking an active role holding signs and volunteering for the candidates they support. Firefighters are already walking neighborhoods for Buckhorn, Kohan said.
Tampa Fire Fighters No. 754 is the second influential public safety union to issue endorsements in the City Council races. Last week, the Tampa Police Benevolent Association likewise endorsed Strepina, Nelson, Meyers, Reddick and Caetano, plus banker and current City Council member Curtis Stokes in District 1 and former mayor Dick Greco in the mayor's race.
Like the police union, firefighters made no endorsement in District 6, where teacher and journalist Kelly Benjamin is currently the only active candidate. The incumbent City Council member, Charlie Miranda, has not said whether he plans to seek re-election to the seat, which covers West Tampa.
The city's elections are March 1.