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Tampa City Council gives green light to pushing back next year’s city election

The change, mandated by state law, will give Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the council members an extra month on the job---but also allows more time to get ballots to military and overseas voters.
The Tampa City Council, pictured here in its 2009 formation, has the authority to change an election date by passing an ordinance.  [Times]
The Tampa City Council, pictured here in its 2009 formation, has the authority to change an election date by passing an ordinance. [Times]
Published Apr. 26, 2018
The Tampa City Council took an initial step to extend the current terms of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and council members’ own tenure in office to allow more time for overseas ballots to be collected.

The council's unanimous vote (Chairman Frank Reddick was absent) keeps next year's initial round of voting the same: March 5. But the traditional three-week sprint of a runoff will be extended seven weeks until April 23.

The city's next mayor and new council will be sworn in on May 1, 2019.

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer asked council members to make the change so  his office can comply with state law mandating 45 days between the two rounds of voting to send out ballots to military and overseas voters.

The alternative, Latimer said, would be to push the election season back into the holiday season, an option which appealed to exactly no one, including likely mayoral candidate, Mike Suarez.

"I don't know too many candidates who want to qualify in December and battle  through to February 5th. It makes more sense to extend the time," Suarez said.

The change can be made by ordinance rather than changing the charter through a referendum because state law overrides the city's charter, Latimer said.

Giving sitting elected officials an extra paycheck might not play well in some quarters, but has to be done, said council member Guido Maniscalco.

"I can see already the optics of that: City Council wants an extra paycheck. But if you have such a small window to mail ballots  to our military, it just doesn't make any sense," he said.

City staff will bring council an ordinance for a first reading a week or two, said City Attorney Salvatore Territo.