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Local voter turnout still sags

Pam Iorio won big in New Tampa.

New Tampa's voter turnout lagged behind the rest of the city.

The area, however, made some strides since the last set of municipal elections.

Those are the three general themes found in data about Tuesday's mayoral race from the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office.

Iorio, the former county elections supervisor, won 55 percent of the New Tampa vote. The 1,731 ballots cast for her were more than three times the number cast for either runner-up Frank Sanchez or third-place candidate Bob Buckhorn.

"I think she got her message across well," said Hunter's Green resident Lois Haas, one of Iorio's key volunteers in New Tampa. "She made the community realize that they would not just be an appendage to the city."

Slightly more than one-fifth of registered voters headed to the polls, about 5 percent more than turned out in the 1999 municipal elections. Overall, about 29 percent of the city went to the polls. Those numbers do not include absentee ballots or votes cast before election day.

Not surprisingly, the older areas of New Tampa had higher turnout rates than the newer sections. Hunter's Green and the southern portion of Tampa Palms recorded higher rates than Cory Lake Isles, Heritage Isles and West Meadows.

Jim Davison, president of New Tampa Votes!, said it "was a little bit disappointing" that New Tampa's turnout wasn't higher given that two residents, Shawn Harrison and Curtis Stokes, ran for seats. Davison attributed Iorio's 55 percent to her name recognition.

He said he hoped New Tampa would hit a rate closer to 25 percent or even 30 percent in the mayoral runoff.

_ John Balz can be reached at (813) 269-5313 or at