TAMPA — Yvonne Yolie Capin narrowly captured the District 3 City Council seat Tuesday, limiting the council's turnover to four new members.
Capin will shift to the citywide seat from the District 4 South Tampa post she was appointed to last year. In a year when all seven council seats were up for grabs, Capin, Mary Mulhern and Charlie Miranda were able to keep their place at the table.
Capin, a retired business owner and Democratic fundraiser, defeated former Hillsborough County commissioner Chris Hart 52 percent to 48 percent. In the March 1 election, Hart beat Capin by a similar margin to force a runoff.
The pair waged a testy battle for the past month, marked by a false accusation Hart made about Capin in a televised debate. Hart later apologized.
Referencing that incident and paraphrasing a Rocky movie, Capin said from her victory party: "It's not how hard you hit. It's how hard you get hit and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done."
"That's how I feel," she said. "Every day was a drama and we overcame it."
In her campaign, Capin, 61, vowed to revitalize neighborhoods, calling them "the building blocks of the city." She said more community policing would lead to safer neighborhoods, which would attract new residents and businesses and spark the city's economy.
Capin also is a strong proponent of light rail, and has vowed to keep working toward high-speed rail.
The Leto High School graduate has lived in Tampa nearly all her life. At 21, she started her first business here and has been a local entrepreneur ever since.
For 20 years, Capin and her husband, Juan, owned and ran JC Jewelers on Dale Mabry Highway. The couple, who have an adult daughter, live in South Westshore and have volunteered on Democratic campaigns for years. Capin lost a bid for the Florida Legislature in 2008.
In July, Capin was appointed to the District 4 South Tampa seat when John Dingfelder resigned to run for County Commission. When Capin applied for the seat, she told the City Council she did not intend to run in the upcoming election.
Four months later, she announced her bid for the District 3 seat. Throughout the race, opponents criticized her for the change of heart.
They also criticized her for distributing fliers that claimed an endorsement from state Rep. Betty Reed, which Reed denied. (Though a month later Reed did endorse Capin.)
Finally, in a televised debate this month, Hart accused Capin of cheating former customers. After failing to produce evidence of the claim to the St. Petersburg Times, Hart publicly apologized.
Capin fired back, calling Hart "deceptive, reckless and irresponsible with the truth." She alerted City Attorney Chip Fletcher, who pulled the debate off air because of a state broadcasting law.
Capin raised about $46,000 to Hart's $29,000.
She said Tuesday night she would celebrate the victory for only a few hours. She has City Council appointments this morning.
"It's back to work," she said.
Jack Nicas can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or email@example.com.
City Council runoff results
Yvonne Yolie Capin20,010 52.1%
Harry Cohen 9,16760.8%
Lisa Montelione 3,88560.7%
Charles Perkins 2,51839.3%
Unofficial returns include absentee and early ballots, but do not include provisional ballots; results may not add up to 100 percent. Council candidates who won in the March 1 primary are Mary Mulhern in District 2, Frank Reddick in District 5 and Charlie Miranda in District 6. New City Council members begin their terms on April 1.