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Tampa City Council District 1

Tampa City Council | District 1

The race for the citywide seat features four candidates who have never served in public office and another who was appointed to the Tampa City Council in July. The winner will replace Gwen Miller, who can't run for the post because of term limits. Shelley Rossetter, Times staff writer

About the job: District 1 is a citywide seat. Council members receive $40,250 a year and serve four-year terms. City elections are nonpartisan.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to compare the candidates.

Part 1 Rick Barcena, 48
Riverside Heights (R)
Guido Maniscalco, 26
Plaza Terrace area (R)
Tom Slaughter, 52
Hyde Park (D)
Experience A Tampa native, Barcena is the owner of Rigatoni Restaurant and works as a real estate broker.

Barcena is the chairman of the city of Tampa Code Enforcement Board. He is also a member of the Hillsborough County Value Adjustment Board. In 2007, Barcena ran for the same City Council seat.
A Tampa native and first generation American, Maniscalco grew up in West Tampa and works at his family-owned jewelry business. He has no political experience but a passion, he says, for the city.

Maniscalco's father emigrated from Sicily and his mother from Cuba. He is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian.
Slaughter has lived in Tampa for 28 years and runs an engineering firm, which focuses on transportation and infrastructure projects.

Slaughter has served on the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Association's Citizen Advisory Board, the Hillsborough County Trails Task Force and as director of the American Society of Highway Engineers.
Education Hillsborough High School, diploma University of South Florida, bachelor's degree University of Florida, bachelor's degree
What, if any, city programs or departments are your biggest priority? Construction Services. The city needs to make the permitting process easier for small businesses in Tampa by loosening the leash for current businesses. Easing up on restrictions that are old or outdated will allow businesses to grow and expand. There are not any specific areas that need to be examined but instead every department needs to be looked at as a whole. Then the city can take a look at the budget and decide where it is effective and where it is not. The departments where more support is needed, such as the code enforcement and permitting office. Identify the areas that could be improved with better tools, software or restructuring to make the job easier for employees and smoother for the public.
What ideas do you have for spurring job growth and economic development? Making it easier for local businesses to deal with city departments, such as Construction Services, will make it easier for businesses to stay alive and put more people to work. The city needs to develop ways to help businesses expand and sustain themselves. Offer incentives and tax breaks to new and existing businesses. This will make Tampa more enticing and appealing for businesses considering going elsewhere and keep the businesses that the city already has here. Improving education and mass transportation in the area will bring more employers. There's already good structure, but we need to modernize. Working on affordable light rail would help.
If high-speed rail comes to Tampa, should the city implement transportation improvements to augment it? Yes. Local transportation is an integral role to make high-speed or light rail successful. The city needs to create a partnership between the different aspects of transportation to make it work. Yes. We have to work with high-speed rail and make it easier for the residents of Tampa to get to the stations. The city could do so by working with the existing bus system. Yes. The system, though, should fit within the city's existing budget and be affordable and efficient for people to use.
What specific ideas do you have for addressing the city's ongoing budget issues? There are probably a lot of areas that need to be addressed. Each department and area of the city needs to be re-evaluated to make sure the city is acting in the best interest of the citizens. Merge services with private companies and consolidate if we can. There is not a lot of money available in the existing budget to move around so we need to look at improving areas where money is being drawn from, such as parking. Take a closer look at where the money is going and at city employee salaries and pensions. The city should also consider extending the retirement age or implementing employee contributions to pensions to reduce budget shortfalls.
Assets Income properties, house, jewelry, business Bank shares, vintage watch and jewelry collection House, business stock, savings and investments
Liabilities Bank loans, mortgage Credit card debt, car loans Mortgage
Income Business income and investment properties Business income Job salary
Personal Married with two children Single Married; no children.

Part 2 Curtis Stokes, 42
New Tampa (NPA)
Mike Suarez, 46
Riverside Heights (D)
Experience Stokes holds the citywide District 3 seat. He was appointed to the position in July to replace Linda Saul-Sena, who resigned to run for Hillsborough County Commission.

Stokes, a banker, ran unsuccessfully for the seat in 2003. He serves on the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority.
Suarez is a Tampa native and an independent insurance agent. He is the former Central Florida District representative for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

Suarez serves as chairman of the Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee and is a member of the Tampa Civil Service Board. He ran for the Florida state legislature in 1998.
Education Florida Atlantic University, bachelor's degree; Nova University, master's degree University of South Florida, bachelor's and master's degrees.
What, if any, city programs or departments are your biggest priority? The budget and maintaining the city's current bond rating without raising taxes. To do this, the city could look at consolidating some services and moving from a March election to a November one that lines up with the County Commission. First, focus on areas that can help create jobs. Then look at neighborhood problems such as street flooding and road improvements. Create runoff areas and retention ponds for the flooding and resurface and improve roads.
What ideas do you have for spurring job growth and economic development? Create loans for small businesses that will give them the opportunity to come to the bank and borrow money with the city guaranteeing up to 50 percent. Loans would allow local businesses to hire more employees and create new jobs. Stokes has already suggested this idea to the council and wants to continue working on it. Use the city's general fund to create small interest loans for existing businesses. If a business can prove they've hired more employees, the city could reduce the amount of interest owed back on the loan. We want to let business owners know that the city wants to make sure they have the wherewithal to expand.
If high-speed rail comes to Tampa, should the city implement transportation improvements to augment it? Yes. Partner with existing mass transit to create a system that supports high-speed and local rail. Yes. The city should look at light rail but also at creating additional bus routes during peak hours and using mobile technology to make it easier for people to use the bus system.
What specific ideas do you have for addressing the city's ongoing budget issues? Switching to a two-year budget cycle would allow the city to create a budget that doesn't need to be revisited every year and allow more room to work with. The city should also look at new options for city employee pensions. Locate departments where the city can increase efficiency through the use of interlocal agreements, examine the city's insurance policy to see if money can be saved. But don't touch employee pensions if it's not necessary.
Assets Investment properties, house, savings House, business, 401(k)
Liabilities Mortgages, credit card debt Mortgage, car loan
Income Job salary, City Council pay, investment properties Business income
Personal Married with one child Married with three children

Tampa City Council District 1 02/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 11:33am]
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