Ella K. Coffee
Ella Coffee, 47, is a Democratic activist with a long history in Tampa. She’s worked on the campaigns of Barack Obama and Rick Kriseman. She also served on the board of the Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP. Among other issues, Coffee is running on a platform of expanded affordable housing. The Democrat has raised about $21,000 for her campaign.
Todd Cole, 53, is the manager of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay. A political newcomer, Cole is running to provide more affordable housing and better performing schools to District 5. The registered Democrat has raised just over $7,000 for his campaign.
Orlando Gudes, 51, is a retired police officer and funeral director. He’s worked with a number of civic organizations, including the Charter Review Commission and the Hillsborough County NAACP. He’s running on a platform of economic betterment. The registered Democrat has raised about $49,000 for the campaign — the most of any candidate running in the crowded race for District 5.
Jeffrey Rhodes, 56, is a funeral director who has served with a number of city groups. Rhodes has been a member of the West Tampa Community Redevelopment Association and he has helped organize the “souls to the polls” get out the vote effort for the local NAACP chapter. He’s running on a platform of neighborhood preservation and improved relations between the community and police. The Democrat has raised just over $23,000.
Ralph Smith is listed as Ralph “The Computer Guy” Smith on the Supervisor of Elections website. He founded a company that teaches computer skills to poor kids. He’s hoping to utilize his experience with that company and in the banking field to help bring better economic prospects to District 5. The Democrat and NAACP member has raised almost $20,000 for his run.
What’s at stake
District 5 runs through most of East Tampa, including Ybor City. It’s a nonpartisan race for a nonpartisan seat, but the seven-member council is currently comprised entirely of Democrats. The City Council is the legislative arm of Tampa: It holds the power to pass local ordinances and works with the mayor to pass the city’s budget. The District 5 seat is currently held by the term-limited Frank Reddick. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the race goes to an April 23 runoff.