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Harry Cohen seeking second term on Tampa City Council

Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen, left, listens to Craig Ricks in 2011 during Cohen’s volunteer shift as a server at the Trinity Cafe, a charity that serves sit-down meals to the homeless and hungry.

SKIP O'ROURKE | Times (2011)

Tampa City Council member Harry Cohen, left, listens to Craig Ricks in 2011 during Cohen’s volunteer shift as a server at the Trinity Cafe, a charity that serves sit-down meals to the homeless and hungry.

6

August

Harry Cohen on Tuesday filed to run for re-election to the Tampa City Council District 4 seat representing South Tampa.

Cohen, 44, is a lawyer and former chief deputy clerk of the circuit court for Hillsborough County. He works for the clerk’s office part-time on a wide-ranging project to update the agency’s information technology.

On the City Council, Cohen is vice chairman, chairs the finance committee and represents the council on the Metropolitan Planning Organization and the board of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

During his first term, he has focused on neighborhood issues, transportation, drainage as well as building consensus on problems like panhandling. Recently, he’s looked for ways to ease the parking, noise and other problems created by the success of the S Howard Avenue bar scene.

As a result, the City Council is scheduled to get a report Thursday on the possibility of adding parking to Platt Street. Transportation officials say that up to 54 metered spaces could be added, so the city will delay a resurfacing project on Platt while they do more research.

“They have definitely taken the idea seriously,” he said. Other ideas aimed at the problem are scheduled for discussion at future council meetings.

Cohen said the city is making progress on important South Tampa projects such as the new Port Tampa fire station, scheduled to open next week, and the Roy Jenkins Pool on Davis Islands, which he said will open later this month, as well as on drainage projects included in Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposed budget for 2015.

Cohen said he wants to continue to focus on other neighborhood priorities, such as the Bobby Hicks Pool, which he said needs work.

“I just think we have a lot more to do,” he said. “The city, I think, has made tremendous progress in these past few years in investing in our pools and parks … (but) since we funded some of those projects, I've heard from other neighborhoods.”

Cohen also has worked on a long-requested project to dredge some or all of 10 residential canals along West Shore between Kennedy and Gandy boulevards. The $2.8 million project has completed work on six of the canals, with dredging on most of the others expected to start this year. Cohen said he thinks he’s done a good job not only helping to persuade Buckhorn’s administration to start the dredging after years of neighborhood petitions, but also looking at possible solutions aimed at larger problems related to canals.

Not everyone agrees, though. In May South Tampa businessman Kent King, who has lobbied City Hall for years on the canals, filed to challenge Cohen, saying he has the background to be more effective and would work to focus more money and attention on the problem.

With Cohen’s filing, all five council members not facing term limits have taken the first steps to run for re-election next March, and all but Mike Suarez have drawn opponents. Mary Mulhern and Charlie Miranda will leave their seats due to term limits, though Miranda, who represents the West Tampa’s District 6, could run for Mulhern’s citywide seat. He has not indicated whether he will do so.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 12:39pm]

    

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