TAMPA — Business owners, lawyers, community activists, former council members and current council candidates are among 66 applicants for two vacant Tampa City Council seats.
Some applicants have significant political experience, such as Mary Alvarez, who served on the City Council for eight years; Mike Suarez, former head of the Hillsborough County Democratic Party; and Joe Chillura, a former council member and county commissioner, who says he would decline the $750-a-week paycheck.
Also in the mix: David Agliano, owner of the now-closed Valencia Gardens restaurant, which for decades was the lunchtime hot spot for Tampa's political movers. In his application, Agliano said he plans to run for the council in the March elections.
Angelica Diaz, owner of the defunct Viva La Frida restaurant in Seminole Heights, and Carrie West, owner of an Ybor City gift shop that caters to the gay community, also applied.
"I think I can be one of the best for the community because of my past experiences and what I've achieved already," West said.
West has been active in Ybor City's redevelopment. He said he would like to focus similar attention on downtown, as well as be an advocate for light rail and improvements to sewer and water systems.
All six are among 39 people seeking the at-large District 3 seat vacated by Linda Saul-Sena. Another 27 applicants are vying for South Tampa's District 4 seat, formerly held by John Dingfelder.
Saul-Sena and Dingfelder abruptly left the council last month to run for the Hillsborough County Commission.
Applicants for Dingfelder's post include Sue Lyon, a longtime neighborhood activist and frequent speaker at City Council meetings; Yvonne Yolie Capin, a Democratic fundraiser who ran unsuccessfully for the state House in 2008; and lawyer Harry Cohen, who also plans to decline a salary and run for the council in the March elections.
Spencer Kass, a real estate agent, submitted an affidavit with his District 4 application pledging not to seek office in March.
"It shouldn't be about king-making, having someone up there trying to score points with voters and using City Council time for publicity," Kass said.
For the past three years, Kass has served on the council's Budget Advisory Committee.
Dingfelder and Saul-Sena had hoped to stay in their jobs until November, but resigned early after missing a deadline for filing resign-to-run paperwork with the Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Office. The two, who are Democrats, are now facing lawsuits from county Republicans who say the missed deadline means they shouldn't appear on the November ballot.
The remaining five council members will choose their new colleagues Monday. The interim council members will serve until after the city's March elections.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.