TAMPA — Ignoring an earlier pledge not to seek a seat in the March elections, Yvonne Yolie Capin has filed to run for the at-large District 3 City Council seat.
Capin now holds the District 4 slot that represents South Tampa. Five council members appointed her to the post in July after John Dingfelder resigned to run for the County Commission.
Some council members had expressed reservations about appointing interim members who planned to run for office, saying they would have an unfair advantage over opponents.
In seeking the appointment, Capin indicated on an application she would not run for office.
"That's exactly what I meant when I wrote it. I had no intention of running. I didn't see myself spending four years on zoning issues," said Capin, who in 2008 made a failed run for the District 57 state House seat against Republican incumbent Faye Culp. "Obviously, I had a change of heart. I came to find out that City Council has a lot of power to do good. It just needs to be used."
At last week's council meeting, Capin pressed fellow board members to support an ordinance that would increase enforcement of wet zoning rules and impose a new fee to pay for it if necessary.
But facing resistance and questions from other council members, Capin settled for a workshop on the topic in January.
Curtis Stokes currently holds the District 3 seat that Capin is seeking. Like Capin, he was appointed to the post in July. Council members chose him to replace Linda Saul-Sena, who resigned to run for the County Commission.
And like Capin, Stokes indicated on his application he wouldn't run for office in March. He then filed to run for the District 1 citywide seat.
Capin will face green business consultant Michael Ciftci, emergency room physician Jason Wilson and lawyer Seth Nelson in March.
"She violated the public trust," Nelson said of Capin's decision to run after saying she wouldn't. "The council said they couldn't hold anyone to it, and people certainly have a right to change their minds. But your word should be more important."
Nelson applied for appointment to the District 3 seat in July, including on his application his status as a candidate.
"I was truthful and said not only will I run, but I am running. I applied for the seat I was running for. I could have applied for District 4, but I thought that was not genuine," Nelson said.
Ciftci said Capin's change of heart "raises questions of honesty."
"I believe honesty is an important issue in any election, but ultimately it will be up to the voters of Tampa to decide," Ciftci said. "Our campaign is focused on restoring trust and confidence in City Council so we can get started on the important work of growing our economy, creating jobs, and ensuring the public's safety."
Wilson said Capin's candidacy is just more of the same.
"Ms. Capin's entry into our race provides the voters with more choices of names, but not an increased choice in perspective," Wilson said, adding that as a physician he offers a clearer alternative to a sitting council member, a lawyer who has served on city advisory boards and a consultant who worked for a developer.
"It is necessary to have a City Council that includes representatives outside traditional occupations of business and law when reviewing zoning ordinances and building codes to ensure that the largest number of constituents have a voice in every decision," Wilson said. "A physician has no vested career gains in the majority of City Council decisions."
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.