TAMPA — The election isn't until early 2015, but businessman Tommy Castellano this month became the first candidate to file papers to run for the City Council seat held by Chairman Charlie Miranda.
No one expects he'll be the last.
"I think there will be five or six in that race, at least," said Miranda, who will leave the District 6 seat because of term limits.
Castellano, 63, owns Castellano Air Conditioning Services and has served on the West Tampa and Ybor City chambers of commerce.
"Basically, I grew up in this area," said Castellano, whose aunt is former two-term District 6 City Council member Mary Alvarez. "I want to serve my community. I think I can do a good job. I know my district. I know the neighborhoods."
Among other things, Castellano said he wants to focus attention on the city's "big, big underground" of unpermitted roadside businesses and unlicensed contractors. Addressing those problems would bring in more revenue from license fees and business taxes and would protect property owners from building trade workers who operate outside the law, he said.
"There's got to be something that we can do about it," he said.
This is not Castellano's first run for public office. In 2010, he finished second in a four-person Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 seat held by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.
District 6 covers parts of South and West Tampa, plus center-city neighborhoods such as South Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights and Wellswood. It's highly diverse, with neighborhoods that range from rich to poor and constituent needs to match.
"It's like a vegetable soup," Miranda said. "It's a district of the whole city."
Others whose candidacy wouldn't come as a surprise to political insiders include West Tampa vintage watch retailer Guido Maniscalco, lawyer Danny Alvarez and Dr. Jason Wilson, who is the research director for the University of South Florida's emergency medicine residency program at Tampa General Hospital.
Maniscalco and Wilson both ran for citywide council seats in 2011. Maniscalco said he's 90 percent sure he's going to run in District 6, but probably won't file to run or make an announcement until next year. Wilson said he's thought about and talked to people about the race, but 2013 is a "little early" to make any moves.
Lawyer Gil Sanchez, a former candidate for state representative who also is mentioned as a possible candidate, said last week he's still interested in representing his community at some point. But with a second baby on the way and a growing law practice, "right now I'll be sitting out on this one," he said.
Miranda, 72, served on the council from 1974 to 1979, from 1995 to 2003 and from 2007 to now. The city's charter limits council members to serving two terms in the same district, but Miranda could move from his single-member district seat and run for one of the council's three citywide at-large seats. Speculation is that the best seat for him to seek would be District 2, which Mary Mulhern will leave by 2015. For one thing, she's running for the Hillsborough County Commission next year. For another, she's term-limited, too.
For now, Miranda said he doesn't expect to decide anytime soon. It's not out of character for him to start his campaign just a few months before the election.
"It depends on what I feel the city needs to get done. It depends on how I feel at the time. It depends on a lot of factors," he said. "I don't know what I'm going to do. I won't know anything, really, until a year from this November."
Richard Danielson can be reached at (813) 226-3403, [email protected] or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.