TAMPA — A funeral home owner and a retired police officer appear headed for a runoff for the City Council District 5 seat, according to early results.
Jeffrey L. Rhodes, who co-owns Ray Williams Funeral Home, led with 31 percent of the vote after a count of early voting and mail ballots, election results show. But that means he will likely face a runoff election on April 23 against former Tampa Police Department officer Orlando Gudes, 51.
LIVE RESULTS: See the results in each race.
Gudes, whose $62,000 in donations was more than twice as much as any of his opponents, holds a narrow lead over Ella K. Coffee, a longtime neighborhood activist and political consultant. Ralph “The Computer Guy” Smith and Todd “TC” Cole trail further back.
The district, which includes downtown Tampa, Ybor City, Channelside, Seminole Heights and East Tampa, is being vacated by Frank Reddick, who plans to run for a Hillsborough County Commission seat in 2020. It is the city's only majority minority district.
Concerns about gentrification of city neighborhoods and calls for better transportation and more affordable housing dominated campaign discussions on the doorstep and at forums.
Rhodes, 56, said he was concerned that the city could lose its only majority minority district and would consider redrawing district boundaries to ensure minorities continue to be represented on council. He would also like to see the city consider a hiring ordinance like one passed by St. Petersburg that sets goals for hiring apprentices and ex felons for companies awarded city contracts.
He is making his first run for office and raised almost $24,000 in campaign donations.
Gudes touted his experience on the Charter Review Commission and a city community advisory committee as proof that he is ready to serve.
If elected, he said he would provide more city resources to identifying and cleaning up blighted areas in order to bring more jobs and economic stimulus to low-income neighborhoods in East Tampa, traditionally the poorest part of the city.
He wants the city to work with non-profit groups to rehab and build homes for low-income families. Vacant lots owned by the city could also be used for affordable housing, he said.
His endorsements included Hillsborough County Commission chair Les Miller, state lawmaker Dianne Hart and the Tampa Police Benevolent Association.
Contact Christopher O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_times.