William March: Clendenin could shake up City Council race; Kemp and Smith endorse Turanchik; Narain won’t run for mayor

Clendenin is a latecomer to the District 1 field, with four other candidates vying for the citywide seat being left open by Mike Suarez, who’s running for mayor.
Published January 16

Alan Clendenin, a big name from the world of party politics in Tampa, could shake up the non-partisan District 1 Tampa City Council race.

Clendenin is a latecomer to a field with four other candidates for the citywide seat being left open by Mike Suarez, who’s running for mayor.

A 59-year-old retiree with two adult children, Clendenin lives in South Tampa after a career as an air traffic control manager at Tampa International Airport and elsewhere, and a national official of the air traffic controllers union.

He’s also had a long career as a volunteer official in the Democratic Party, currently one of Florida’s delegates to the Democratic National Committee and formerly a county delegate to the state party executive committee. He ran for state party chairman in 2016 and 2012.

This will be Clendenin’s second attempt to move from party work into public office. He ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat in 2016.

“I’m in a phase of my life where I want to contribute,” he said. “I chose as a young adult to live in Tampa. I could have lived in any city that had an airport. Tampa is on the verge of becoming what we used to talk about, America’s next great city. We need to continue that.”

Other issues he considers important, he said, are climate change preparedness, safety, transportation and “expanding economic opportunity into neighborhoods that haven’t enjoyed the same success as downtown.”

Clendenin acknowledged his late entry may cost him supporters already committed to other candidates, but said he expects to have prominent endorsers nonetheless. His late entry, he said, was because of his preoccupation with the 2018 mid-term elections.

In his 2016 school board race, he had little trouble raising money, with $71,120, including $20,000 of his own.

Other candidates in the race include chiropractor Craig Newman, the current fundraising leader; environmental engineer Walter L. Smith II; civic activist and businessman Joe Citro; and consultant David Loos.

Smith and Kemp endorse Turanchik

Mariella Smith and Pat Kemp are publicly endorsing Ed Turanchik in the race for mayor, citing his credentials on transportation, but the other Democratic county commissioners, Chairman Les Miller and Kimberly Overman, say they’re staying neutral.

“I know too many of them and have worked with them,” Miller said. “In May I’ve got to work with that mayor, especially on transportation,” and he doesn’t want to risk having the relationship clouded by having endorsed a different candidate.

Similarly, Overman said, “I’m going to have to have an unencumbered relationship with whoever wins, so I’m not taking any position.”

But Smith said she’s not worried about possible later conflicts.

“I’m not opposing any candidate,” she said. “There are great people running and I see no reason I couldn’t work with any of them” if Turanchik doesn’t win. “I have a long history of working with people where we disagree on some issues but agree on others.”

Kemp has been enthusiastic about Turanchik since he first announced he might run.

“I’m all in — 1000%. We need you Mayor Turanchik!” she posted on Facebook Dec. 5.

Turanchik was ambivalent and sometimes critical of the All For Transportation referendum which both Kemp and Smith supported, but both said that doesn’t bother them.

Smith said Turanchik merely “voiced concerns” about the referendum, and has the strongest record in the candidate field on transit.

“Ed was named (Commmissioner) Choo Choo because he was way ahead of his time for Tampa/Hillsborough” as a county commissioner in the 1990s, Kemp wrote on Facebook recently, citing his work on rail transit, the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, establishing the Urban Service Area, and more recently, the Cross Bay Ferry.

Narain staying out of mayor’s race

Former state Rep. Ed Narain, subject of speculation for months as a possible candidate for mayor, said Wednesday he won’t jump into the nine-candidate field for the March 5 contest.

Qualifying for the race ends Friday.

Narain, 42, a local telecom executive, lost narrowly to Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg in the 2016 primary for the Bay-crossing state Senate District 19. He said at the time he’d be interested in a future rematch but has since remained mum about political plans. Meanwhile, local Democrats have continued to consider him a future electoral prospect and he’s been mentioned as a possible candidate for numerous offices.

“Despite the encouragement of several community and business leaders, I’ve decided against running for mayor at this time,” he said in a text message to the Times. “I will continue working to address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and look forward to supporting the next mayor.”