TAMPA — With Tampa city elections just 10 months away, a group is forming to back Ed Turanchik for mayor.
"He isn't a candidate, at least not yet, but I hope he will be," public relations consultant Deanne Roberts wrote in an e-mail inviting people to meet-and-greets for Turanchik in June.
Turanchik, who served on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1990 to 1998, said he is considering a run.
"If there is any political job I would do, that would probably be the only one,'' he said. "Everything I've worked on for the last 23 years has been about Tampa. I'm a city guy."
Roberts said she sees the meetings as a "listening tour" for Turanchik to help him develop a platform for a potential campaign.
With rail likely to be one of the most significant issues in the mayoral race, Turanchik will have a lot to say. He has been fighting for light rail for Tampa for 20 years. More recently, he led a statewide, grass-roots effort to lobby for federal stimulus money for a high-speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando and Miami.
President Barack Obama awarded Florida $1.25 billion for the line in January. Turanchik now works for a general consultant to the Florida Rail Enterprise, handling public outreach for the project.
But Turanchik is about more than just rail, Roberts said.
"He's got a real grip on smart development. He's very attuned to sustaining our environment,'' she said.
After leaving the County Commission, Turanchik led the push to bring the 2012 Olympics to Tampa, then became involved in a failed attempt to redevelop 150 acres near downtown on land that had been targeted for an Olympic stadium.
In recent years, Turanchik has focused on building green, low-cost housing in West Tampa. The real estate bust, though, forced him this year to turn over his remaining properties to lenders.
So far, four people have filed to run for mayor in March 2011, including City Council Chairman Tom Scott and former council member Bob Buckhorn.
Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.