Luis Viera is elected chairman of Tampa City Council

The 41-year-old council member represents North and New Tampa and promises respectfulness, civility and resoluteness as leader of the seven-member body.
Luis Viera, far right, was elected chairman of the Tampa City Council at its first meeting Wednesday.
Luis Viera, far right, was elected chairman of the Tampa City Council at its first meeting Wednesday.
Published May 1, 2019|Updated May 1, 2019

TAMPA—For weeks, rumors had circulated City Hall of horse-trading and intrigue surrounding the prize of City Council: the chairmanship.

Guido Maniscalco was in the running. So was Luis Viera.

In the end, it took one vote to elect Viera to the post. Returning member and longtime council member Charlie Miranda nominated him. New members Orlando Gudes and Joe Citro joined Viera to reach a majority vote.

City Council member John Dingfelder nominated Maniscalco, who won reelection in March, but it never came to a vote.

In Tampa, selecting a chairman has often been a fraught task, leaving plenty of bruised feelings. On Wednesday, Maniscalco quickly congratulated Viera.

READ MORE: Testy Tampa vote for chairman

After the brief meeting, Viera, 41, first elected in a special election in late 2016 and reelected easily in March, said his leadership style would be civil, but firm.

“I’ll just do what I’ve been doing on City Council, which is being civil, respectful and resolute,” Viera said. “We need to have a chairperson who has strength, who has resolution, but also who handles City Council in a way that is civil, that is respectful to the public, respectful to other elected officials, respectful to our colleagues, like we’ve been having in the past.”

The first order of business for the new council will be approving the budget. Former mayor Bob Buckhorn announced recently that the city had a $1.7 million estimated budget surplus, but Viera said much can happen between now and Sept. 30, when the city must approve its next balanced budget, currently thought to be around $1 billion.

Mayor Jane Castor will likely present a fiscal 2020 budget to council members this summer.

“You can never tell with that. We’ve been told we have a surplus. In the past two years, we’ve had a lot of conflict. Last year, it was because of the health insurance. The year before it was because of the millage rate. Between May and October, who knows could happen by then?” said Viera, who said the economy could worsen or improve in the next few months.

READ MORE: Health insurance fight in Tampa’s budget vote

READ MORE: Marathon meeting and close vote for Buckhorn tax increase

Viera replaces former council member Frank Reddick at the post. The chairman leads meetings and is the point person with the City Clerk’s office on agendas and, often, with the mayor’s office on policy.

Maniscalco was elected vice chairman. Citro was elected CRA chairman. And Dingfelder was voted in as CRA vice chairman. All the votes were unanimous.

The council’s first regular meeting is tomorrow at 9 a.m.