TAMPA — City Council member Curtis Stokes said Monday he is running for the citywide District 1 council seat in Tampa's March elections.
Council member Gwen Miller is term-limited out of the post.
Stokes now holds the at-large District 3 seat. He was appointed to the position in July when Linda Saul-Sena resigned to run for the County Commission.
On an application he filled out when seeking the appointment, Stokes said he didn't plan to run for the council. Council members, who chose Saul-Sena's replacement, had expressed concern about picking someone with aspirations for the March elections.
"I had no intention of running," said Stokes, who filed the paperwork for his candidacy Monday. "I changed my mind. I've had a lot of phone calls, a lot of support from people asking me to run."
Stokes has long been a player in city politics.
In 2003, he ran unsuccessfully for the District 1 seat. And he told the St. Petersburg Times nearly a year ago that he planned to run for the District 2 council seat now held by Mary Mulhern.
"I've thought about it off and on for a long time," said Stokes, who is vice president of community affairs at Fifth Third Bank and resigned as president of the Hillsborough County chapter of the NAACP in September 2009.
Stokes said back in July that he figured he wouldn't run in March because of family and professional obligations.
But after three months on the council, he decided to jump into the race.
"I don't think it's that big of a deal," he said of the change of heart.
So far, former state Rep. Sara Romeo and West Tampa businessman Guido Maniscalco are in the District 1 race.
Maniscalco questioned Stokes' change of heart.
"He put 'no,' thinking it would increase his odds of getting chosen," Maniscalco said. "If he can't be honest on the application, how honest is he going to be on the City Council? It's discouraging. But it's up to the public if they see through it."
Romeo also questioned the switch.
"I don't know. To each his own," she said. "I'd be a little gun-shy about somebody who promised something one month and then did something else the next month."
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.