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For Tampa City Council

Two City Council races will be decided in Tampa's March 25 runoff election. The election is nonpartisan. Council members are elected to four-year terms.

Curtis L. Stokes

District 1, citywide

The departure of longtime council members Bob Buckhorn and Charlie Miranda will leave a big hole in City Council. Curtis Stokes' energy and broad perspective could help fill the void. Stokes' banking background also would help the city as it undertakes several redevelopment initiatives.

Stokes, 34, would focus on the basics _ code enforcement, public safety and better planning and development efforts. He wants to hold the city's private-sector business partners more accountable, and improve coordination among city departments. Stokes recognizes that a citywide representative needs to be visible in many neighborhoods, and he is aware of the need for balance when apportioning city services.

His opponent, Gwen Miller, is a familiar name, having served eight years on the council representing east Tampa. Miller, 68, has been a disappointment. She lacks energy, courage and commitment. The next citywide council member will need to step immediately into a leadership role. Stokes has that potential, and we recommend him in the citywide race for District 1.

Kevin White

District 5 (east Tampa)

The race to represent the heavily black east Tampa district features two members of a Tampa family long active in local politics. Kevin White, 38, is the better choice. He has a broad view of the district's needs and an especially helpful energy level.

White, a financial manager for an automobile dealership, seems committed to lighting a fire under Tampa's economic development efforts. He grasps the importance of focusing police and code enforcement efforts, and he has common-sense ideas for making city departments function better. White's communication skills would raise the profile of a district sorely needing the public's attention.

Bernadine White-King, 51, would bring a valuable perspective from her years working for Hillsborough County social services. But White-King was ill during much of the campaign, and her agenda is largely unknown. White has shown a commitment to work hard for the privilege of getting elected, and if he does what he promises, east Tampa could become the place to watch. The Times recommends Kevin White in District 5.