TAMPA — David Straz made a 7 1/2 minute appearance at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park the day after he barely edged into a runoff election against Jane Castor this week.
Since then, the 76-year-old retired banker has been out of sight. Meanwhile, his opponent is filling the airwaves with commercials touting her record as police chief from 2009 to 2015 and the hearty endorsement of term-limited Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Another round of televised debates and community forums has started to materialize — at least seven, so far.
Straz hasn’t agreed to participate in any of them yet. And the first, hosted by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, is on Monday.
Castor, 59, has agreed to all seven, including three televised debates in April.
“We are in the process of reviewing all invitations and our schedule,” Straz spokesman Jarrod Holbrook wrote in an email Friday.
That elusiveness has flummoxed Rudy Fernandez, who is trying to arrange forums at the downtown University Club and South Tampa’s Kate Jackson Center in late March.
An email to Fernandez from Straz campaign staffer Jackie Frankovich on Friday didn’t offer any clarification.
“Thank you for your interest. At this time, the extreme demands on our schedule make it impossible to accept all the invitations we are receiving. We want to acknowledge your request and let you know we are not confirmed to attend any meeting until you hear from us explicitly that we have accepted your invitation. Please don’t publicize our attendance until you get confirmation from our campaign,” Frankovich wrote.
Fernandez, who served on City Council from 1991 to 1999, moderated two forums at Kate Jackson and the University Club in January. He said he’d like some advance time to alert the membership of the Hyde Park neighborhood associations and the club memberships about the March 26 and March 28 forums.
“We’d like to get some commitment one way or the other,” Fernandez said. “We’ll either make it a debate or a presentation by Jane Castor. I’d love to have both candidates."
Castor’s campaign said she doesn’t plan to slow down her pace over the next six weeks. Since October, there have been nearly 30 forums. Castor missed three. Straz skipped at least 10.
“Jane plans to attend as many forums and debates as possible within the remaining six weeks. She believes that it’s important for the people of Tampa to hear directly about her vision for the future of the city,” said campaign manager Tim Wagner in a statement.