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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa voters head to the polls to choose next mayor, four City Council members



TAMPA — Voters headed to the polls early Tuesday to choose Tampa's next mayor and four City Council members.

The runoff election for mayor pits former City Council members Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita in what is expected to be a close race. People began trickling into polling site parking lots shortly after sunrise Tuesday to cast their ballots for their favorite.

South Tampa voter Robert Fallis, said he has lived in Tampa for 25 years and is unhappy with the direction the city has taken. He didn't like either mayoral candidate but voted for Buckhorn.

"He's a lesser of two evils," Fallis, 27, said.

The owner of a dental center in Bradenton, Fallis felt Ferlita was a "career politician" and said he couldn't stand her.

"At least (Buckhorn) is married with a family," Fallis said. "I think his interests are at least more in line with mine."

At the Palma Ceia Baptist Church site, Dennis Murray said he didn't know much about either candidate, having voted for Ed Turanchik on March 1. On Tuesday, 51-year-old Murray voted for Buckhorn.

"If he feels like he's a solid candidate then I'm going to support him," said Murray, a civil engineer living who has lived Tampa for 27 years.

At the West Tampa Convention Center, there were more supporters holding campaign signs than voters.

Drivers honked at a man holding a bright green sign for Ferlita.

Supporters waived yellow signs for Buckhorn near a sign in a pickup truck that urged voters in Spanish to vote for Buckhorn. The other side of the sign read, "West Tampa is Buckhorn country."

Citywide council races have Curtis Stokes against Mike Suarez for District 1 and Yvonne Yolie Capin against Chris Hart in District 3.

In District 4, Harry Cohen competes with Julie Jenkins to represent South Tampa. In District 7, Lisa Montelione faces Charlie Perkins for the New Tampa seat.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will remain open until 7 p.m.

-- by Ileana Morales, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 9:17am]


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