Looking through the eyes of business at five candidates running to become the next mayor of Tampa, there's only one clear winner.
Meet Mayor Frankenstein. Each candidate has flaws. Yet there are pieces of each of the five that, if stitched together, would yield one great leader to help the Tampa — make that the entire Tampa Bay area — business community.
If it were only that easy.
Unlike most election cycles that seem to run on forever, in Tampa voters must choose quickly among these candidates to succeed term-limited Mayor Pam Iorio. Election day is March 1.
That's not a lot of time to differentiate among five candidates who are reasonably known quantities based on their past public service.
On Tuesday, the five gathered on a Tampa Chamber-organized morning panel before 300 business people at the downtown Hyatt to touch on some audience-relevant issues.
Let's put together Mayor Frankenstein based on the best input volunteered by each candidate.
Let's start with the arms of Dick Greco, who's already been Tampa mayor four times over multiple decades, for being so friendly that he loves to give hugs. Never underestimate the hugs.
Toss in Bob Buckhorn's legs for his apparent willingness not just to talk the talk but walk the walk about acting regionally. Being Tampa's mayor is no longer just about making one city a better place. It's also about working with St. Petersburg, Clearwater and other parts of the metro area as one region. Even Orlando's future will mingle with Tampa's, especially if high-speed rail arrives.
Says Buckhorn: "We live together or die together."
Add Ed Turanchik's (sizable) feet for his strong transportation advocacy of the anticipated (but not yet consummated) Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail line and regional mass transit. "Choo Choo" Turanchik calls the high-speed rail — once linked with a regional mass transit system that as mayor he'll push for again in a voter referendum in 2012 — a regional foundation for business.
And it's a unique marketing tool for Tampa. ("Who else in America will have high-speed rail?") Those comments won Turanchik some applause Tuesday.
From candidate Thomas Scott, add the hands for pointing out the potential of Tampa's port as an underrated economic engine for the city.
And from Tampa-born-and-raised Rose Ferlita, contribute the gift of gab (notably her ability to sell Tampa in English, Spanish or Italian) for "exploring every opportunity" to relocate businesses to the city.
Add it all up. Our best-of-the-five assembled mayor gives us a superfriendly, regionally savvy, mass transit backing, port-supporting, multilingual salesperson.
Of course, the Frankenstein tale does not end well. Best to learn more about these five and vote for just one, wisely.