TAMPA — A former voter outreach coordinator for the Supervisor of Elections Office has filed to run for the City Council.
Herold Lord, 26, resigned from his job in the elections office last week to seek the District 5 seat that represents east Tampa.
"I had a great opportunity to travel through this entire county since 2008 to inform people about voting," said Lord, who was born in the Tampa Park Apartments public housing complex. "I hope I can do the same thing as a candidate for east Tampa."
Then-Elections Supervisor Buddy Johnson hired Lord in 2007 to help with black voter outreach efforts.
Lord went on to work for Phyllis Busansky, who defeated Johnson in the 2008 elections, then died less than a year later.
Former school superintendent Earl Lennard was appointed to replace Busansky, and Lord continued his duties training poll workers and educating residents about the voting process.
Lord said he feels privileged to have worked for three administrations.
"Phyllis kept me on, and that was a great honor," Lord said. "Earl Lennard, I admire him so much. He was responsible for signing my paychecks and my high school diploma, so I have a lot of respect for Dr. Lennard."
In 2009, the FBI interviewed Lord as part of an investigation of Johnson's spending of federal grant money. The office was forced to refund $96,774. Lord said he had no part in any wrongdoing.
"I was executing the education plan I was instructed to and in no way had any part in improper procedures," he said.
So far, five people have entered the District 5 race to replace council Chairman Tom Scott, who is running for mayor in the city's March 1 elections.
They include Federal Express employee Stanley Gloster; social worker Lynette Judge; Sickle Cell Association president Frank Reddick; and Carrie West, a business owner in Ybor's Gaybor area who, if elected, would be the city's first openly gay council member.
If elected, Lord said one of his top priorities would be improving bus service.
The recent vote on the transportation sales tax, which failed in the county but received approval from low-income east Tampa neighborhoods, shows that voters in that district care deeply about improving their transit options, he said.
He pledged to work with the mayor, the County Commission and transit officials to find grant funding for more buses.
"I do believe the county needs a transportation system that includes rail, but we also need to improve our bus system," he said.
And he said he hopes to see the tax on the ballot again.
"I don't think it should die," Lord said. "Because of the economy, this wasn't the best time, and it takes several times for a tax like that to pass."
Lennard said Lord was a good employee.
"He's a good guy. He's young and enthusiastic," Lennard said.
But he stopped short of endorsing Lord.
"The supervisor's office has to remain apolitical. I have preached that to our staff, and we understand that. We certainly are going to follow that rule."
In other city elections news, University of South Florida student Christopher Cano filed Tuesday to run for the at-large District 1 council seat.
Cano was a candidate for the District 60 state House post but lost the Democratic primary to Russell Patterson.
Other candidates in the District 1 council race so far are council member Curtis Stokes and West Tampa businessman Guido Maniscalco.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.