Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

District 6: In West Tampa race, council candidates' differences are stark

TAMPA — The race for District 6 is clearly defined.

Incumbent City Council member Charlie Miranda, 70, has served for 17 years over three decades.

"In order to look at the future, you have to look at the past," Miranda says.

Challenger Kelly Benjamin, 35, a neighborhood activist, is tired of revisiting the past and says it's time to push toward a new future.

"I've been represented by Mr. Miranda for most of my life here in Tampa," he said, "and I think there's no urgency in Tampa to move issues forward, to promote viability to promote livability."

It's a clear old school vs. new school battle for the seat that represents neighborhoods around West Tampa, including parts of Seminole Heights. Miranda unabashedly admits that he doesn't really use computers and focuses on bricks-and-mortar campaign issues such as roads, water lines and sewers. Benjamin is well-versed in social networking and champions a variety of ideas popular these days such as mixed-use redevelopment, light rail, more bike paths, community gardens and "green collar" jobs.

Benjamin spends a good amount of time criticizing Miranda, and his barbs are often personal.

"My opponent has been in office since the Nixon administration," Benjamin wrote in a letter posted on his blog. "He has a requisite knowledge of procedure and protocol but zero vision for moving this city forward and facing the challenges of the 21st century."

Miranda, on the other hand, will not talk about his opponent. He even turned down an opportunity at a debate to question Benjamin.

"The only opponent I have, and I've said this before, is myself," he said.

Besides focusing on infrastructure, Miranda said he offers voters "common sense," a tight-fisted budgetary approach and a track record of passing projects such as a water plant expansion, increased water storage capacity, new senior centers and miles of new sidewalks.

"Without bricks and mortar, you let the infrastructure for streets crumble, you let the sewer lines break across the city, and I tell you who gets votes and who doesn't get votes," he said. "The city is just like owning a house. You have to maintain it. You have to paint it. You have to redo the roof."

He has voted against a council pay raise and given himself a voluntary pay cut. He takes pride in never having used his City Council travel budget. More than a decade ago, he voted against the tax that funded Raymond James Stadium and hasn't set foot in the stadium since, saying it doesn't stimulate the economy enough for the cost taxpayers are footing.

While admirable, Benjamin said many of Miranda's sacrifices are symbolic when the city needs a council member who understands Tampa's root problems. He questions Miranda's thriftiness when he voted in 1996 for a financing deal for emergency service projects, including a new police headquarters, that will cost taxpayers an estimated $70 million in interest.

Miranda responded by saying the vote went toward paying for several crucial public safety improvements, including police substations and fire engines.

"I voted to make sure the police department had a place," he said. "What they had on Tampa Street was dilapidated and full of rats, and no humans should be working there."

Miranda points to being an expert on water storage and savings, but Benjamin said he doesn't recognize that growth is behind a stressed water supply. Tampa lacks a strong mass transit system and has ranked poorly in national studies in pedestrian and bicycling safety, he said.

"We need a lot more than what is being done," Benjamin said.

Justin George can be reached at (813) 226-3368 or jgeorge@sptimes.com.

District 6: In West Tampa race, council candidates' differences are stark 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Putin visits France, hopes to mend strained ties with West

    World

    VERSAILLES, France — On a visit likely to shape Russia-France ties for years, French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin at the sumptuous Palace of Versailles on Monday for what the newly-elected French leader said would be "demanding" talks on Syria, the Ukrainian crisis and other …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, is welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron at the Palace of Versailles, near Paris, France, Monday. Monday's meeting comes in the wake of the Group of Seven's summit over the weekend where relations with Russia were part of the agenda, making Macron the first Western leader to speak to Putin after the talks. [AP photo]
  2. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside

    Outdoors

    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)
  3. Clearwater man dies after diving from boat into shallow waters

    Public Safety

    A 49-year-old man died after he jumped off a pontoon boat into shallow waters Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico.

  4. Restaurant review: Features Gastropub in Riverview is fine as movie theater fare, but unimpressive otherwise

    Food & Dining

    Movies aren't exactly dying. Despite all the sturm und drang of predictions that Netflix and streaming videos would kill the cinema, global box office receipts hit $38.6 billion in 2016, a 1 percent gain over the previous year. But that doesn't mean going to the cinema is precisely what it was a generation …

    The Features Gastropub is located inside the Riverview 14 GDX theater in Gibsonton, Fla. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.   The 5,900-square-foot Features Gastropub open in the . This element of the project is the brainchild of Philadelphia chef Brian Duffy, who appears frequently on NBC's The Today Show and the Spike TV show Bar Rescue
  5. JFK's last birthday: Gifts, champagne and wandering hands on the presidential yacht

    Nation

    It has been 100 years since John F. Kennedy's birth on May 29, 1917, at his parents' home in Brookline, Mass., just outside Boston. Over the course of his life, Kennedy enjoyed lavish birthday celebrations, the most famous being a Democratic fundraising bash at Madison Square Garden on May 19, 1962, when a sequined …

    President John F. Kennedy aboard the Sequoia in 1963 opening birthday presents. [Robert Knudsen | John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum]