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Caitlin Johnston, Times Staff Writer

Caitlin Johnston

Caitlin Johnston covers transportation, breaking news and features in Hillsborough County. She is a graduate of Indiana University, with her master's from the University of Maryland.

She's always looking for story ideas.

Phone: (813) 226-3401


Twitter: @cljohnst

  1. Honoring Terry Tomalin's legacy: Embrace fear, explore Florida


    Terry Tomalin left a legacy: Explore the world. Expand your perspective. Overcome your fears.

    DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times...

    Tara McCarty, in honor of Terry Tomalin's legacy of overcoming your fears, explores a zip ine course at the Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours in Ocala on Aug. 18, 2016. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times
  2. Hillsborough buses to offer free rides for primary election


    Registered voters in Hillsborough can catch a free bus ride to the polls on Tuesday to cast their vote in the primary election.

    Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority is offering free rides to customers with a valid voter information card. All they have to do is show their card to the bus operator when boarding.

    "I appreciate HART's partnership in helping voters get to the polls on Election Day," said Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections. "This is an important election because several new school board members and judges will be elected during this Primary. These are nonpartisan races that everyone will have on their ballot, whether they are affiliated with a party or not."...

  3. Florida Senate District 19 candidates connect on early childhood learning


    TAMPA — The Democratic candidates in a hotly contested race to replace Sen. Arthenia Joyner are making their final push to connect with voters before next week's primary.

    The four Senate District 19 candidates fielded questions about early childhood education during a forum Tuesday night at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa organized by the Children's Movement of Florida, a group focused on increasing investment in children up to age five....

    Rep. Ed Narain speaks about early childhood education and development in front of an audience of about 65 at the Robert W. Saunders Library on Tuesday. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times] 
  4. Florida Senate District 19 candidates make final push before primary


    TAMPA — The Democratic candidates in a hotly contested race to replace Sen. Arthenia Joyner are making their final push to connect with voters before next week's primary.

    Three former and current state representatives along with a lawyer who is self-funding his campaign will square off in another debate tonight, focusing on issues facing young children.

    The forum, organized by the Children’s Movement of Florida, starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Robert W. Saunders Library in Tampa. All democratic candidates for Florida Senate District 19, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, are expected to attend....

    State Rep. Ed Narainï answers a question during the Tiger Bay Club event Friday. The candidates for state Senate District 19 discussed a variety of topics, including gun violence and for-profit prisons.
  5. Rep. Ed Narain, Augie Ribeiro trade barbs at Tiger Bay


    TAMPA — Tensions flared among Florida State Senate District 19 candidates during a joint appearance Friday, just 11 days before what's expected to be a close Democratic primary vote to replace Arthenia Joyner.

    The field includes two current state representatives and a former representative, along with a self-funded political newcomer.

    Rep. Ed Narain of Tampa and lawyer Augie Ribeiro of St. Petersburg exchanged verbal blows during the Tampa Tiger Bay Club appearance, most of them focusing on a spate of campaign mailers Ribeiro sent painting Narain as a Republican based on his campaign donors....

    Rep. Ed Narain answers a question during the Tiger Bay Club event Friday. The candidates for the District 19 seat discussed a variety of topics, including gun violence and for-profit prisons.
  6. State Senate | District 19, Edwin "Ed" Narain v. Betty Reed v. Augie Ribeiro v. Darryl Rouson


    State Senate | District 19, Democrats

    Three prominent black lawmakers, along with one political newcomer, will vie for Arthenia Joyner's state Senate seat.

    About the job: Senate District 19 once covered portions of three counties, but has now narrowed to Pinellas and Hillsborough. State senators serve four-year terms and are paid $29,697 a year.


    Betty Reed answers questions during a candidate forum for the Senate District 19 race at Childs Park Recreation Center in St. Petersburg on Saturday, June 4, 2016.
  7. Vinik shows support of light rail during 'State of Transit' event, while others deflect issue


    TAMPA — "Beyond the bus" was the theme of Tuesday's transit presentation — but it didn't go as far as trains.

    Topics of discussion at the first "State of Transit," sponsored by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority, included ferries, autonomous vehicles, and partnerships with Uber and cab companies.

    The event's speakers were HART chairman Mike Suarez; CEO Katharine Eagan; Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg; and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik....

    "I think we've got to explore light rail, and we have to explore using the CSX lines," Vinik said after the morning event, held at the University of South Florida Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation. "That doesn't mean it's the only answer, but it does mean it's something we need to strongly consider." DIRK SHADD | Times
  8. Rep. Ed Narain uses Facebook Live to critique campaign mailers


    Rep. Ed Narain is getting riled up about campaign mailers -- and he’s venting his frustrations on Facebook Live.

    Narain used the live video part of Facebook Monday night as he flipped through campaign mailers at his home. While there were several candidates included, most of his attention was focused on those from Augie Ribeiro, a lawyer who entered the Florida Senate District 19 race earlier this summer and has contributed more than $400,000 to his own campaign....

    A screenshot from Rep. Ed Narain's Facebook Live video Monday in which he comments on different campaign mailers he has received.
  9. Oscar Braynon and Florida Senate Democratic Caucus support Rep. Ed Narain for District 19


    The Florida Senate Democratic Caucus decided this week to back Rep. Ed Narain, Tampa, in the hotly contested race to replace Arthenia Joyner in Senate District 19, which covers parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

    The move is an unusual one, as the caucus normally does not get involved in primaries when there is not an incumbent. Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D.-Tampa, currently holds the seat, but has reached her term limit....

  10. In state Senate District 19 Democratic primary, newcomer paints foes as Republicans

    State Roundup

    Augie Ribeiro says he's the only "true Democrat" running for Florida Senate District 19 — and he's spent at least $141,000 on mailers alone to tell voters.

    His glossy ads land in mailboxes with an uncommon frequency. As of late, they've had a pointed message: Ribeiro, not his opponents — all three of whom have served in the Florida House of Representatives — is the only one with real Democratic values running in the Democratic primary....

    Rep. Ed Narain says he takes the attacks personally.
  11. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorses Rep. Ed Narain for Florida Senate


    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn endorsed State Rep. Ed Narain Thursday in his campaign to replace Sen. Arthenia Joyner in Florida Senate District 19, which includes portions of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

    “Following in the footsteps of both Senator Arthenia Joyner and County Commission Chair Les Miller who previously held this seat, I believe that Ed is the clear choice in this race,” Buckhorn said in a statement. “I have worked with Ed on a number of issues affecting our region and he has been a great advocate and teammate for us in Tallahassee.”...

  12. Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco endorses Augie Ribeiro for Florida Senate District 19


    Former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco endorsed wealthy, political newcomer Augie Ribeiro Thursday for Florida Senate District 19, currently occupied by term-limited Sen. Arthenia Joyner.

    Ribeiro, a well-known Pinellas-based attorney who represented St. Pete Beach in the BP oil spill settlement, was the last of four candidates to file for the open seat this summer.

    “He has spent his life standing up for regular people and hardworking families, and will work hard for us in Tallahassee,” Greco said in a release. “Augie will stand up to the special interests in Tallahassee and will fight to lower utility and insurance rates – and when Augie says he will do something, trust me, he will do everything he possibly can.”...

  13. Hillsborough candidates' forum gives voters up-close look at candidates


    TAMPA — Ire Carolina listened intently for nearly four hours Saturday as 20 different candidates tried to convince her that they deserved her vote in the upcoming primary.

    The 53-year-old elementary school principal had never attended a candidates' forum prior to this weekend's Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus all-day event at Beulah Baptist Institutional Church.

    She took notes throughout the day as men and women vying for 11 different seats spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people. It was the first time she had heard the history and vision of many of the individuals on stage....

  14. Democratic candidates struggle to distinguish themselves at St. Petersburg forum

    State Roundup

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Democratic candidates running for two key legislative seats — House District 70 and Senate District 19 — had a chance to distinguish themselves from the competition at Friday's candidate forum.

    But they didn't really get the opportunity.

    The six candidates who attended the Suncoast Tiger Bay forum didn't get a lot of time to answer questions, and the ones they were asked produced predictable answers. After all, how many different responses can a Democrat come up with when asked about a potential Donald Trump administration?...

    Candidates for Florida House District 70, from left, Wengay Newton, CJ Czaia and Dan Fiorini take questions Friday from Tiger Bay Club members at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. 
  15. Senate District 19 candidates struggle to distinguish themselves at forum


    Florida Senate District 19 candidates struggled to distinguish themselves at a Suncoast Tiger Bay forum Friday afternoon.

    State Reps. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, and Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, touted their records and long lists of endorsements while political newcomer Augie Ribeiro cast himself as an outsider not tied down by political interests and campaign donations.

    Former State Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa, was not present, though a placard and meal were waiting for her at the head table. ...