1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

Ed Turanchik: A contentious candidate goes Zen

The lawyer and transportation wonk waxes on politics and plans for the future. (Hint: Maybe not what you think. )
Tampa attorney Ed Turanchik [Times]
Tampa attorney Ed Turanchik [Times]
Published Nov. 10

Whither Ed Turanchik?

When we last saw the well-known Tampa lawyer, former county commissioner and transportation wonk who represents the operator of the fledgling cross-bay ferry service, he was finishing fourth in a bruising race to be the city’s next mayor.

Since then, there has been much rumor and speculation about his political plans, some of it downright Machiavellian.

So how’s it going?

“Better than being mayor,” Turanchik, 63, says pleasantly over coffee downtown.

For someone whose critics say always believes he’s the smartest guy in the room (“Well, I often am,” he says, then laughs and insists he’s kidding), he’s pretty Zen these days. Lately he’s been off traveling and hiking various woods with his wife Jenny. “So life is good,” he says.

On his future in politics, he does not equivocate:

“I’ve done my public service and I’ll never run for office again in my life,” he says. “I don’t have elected official’s disease.” Though he will keep helping candidates he likes.

Which brings us to those rumors, the ones everyone in local politics has been speculating on: that he aspires to become the next Hillsborough County administrator when the current one, Mike Merrill, retires. That with his newly-elected and like-minded Democrat friends currently on the commission, they will rule county government (insert sinister horror movie laugh here.)

“Laughable,” Turanchik says. No plans for that, he says. Zero. Zilch.

Did I say Zen?

Well, there was that post-mayor’s race dust-up when the county commission voted to transfer the proposed south county/MacDill ferry to the beleaguered bus agency, HART, which did not appear to auger well for its future. Commissioner Sandy Murman said she believes that after the vote that Turanchik mouthed the words “you’re dead” to her from the audience. She says she took this as a political message.

(Tampa does like to spice up a meeting. Remember over at the city council a few years back when a union official was accused — and later cleared — of making a throat-slashing gesture from the audience during a contentious meeting? Apparently it’s a local thing.)

Turanchik says in his case, it didn’t happen, that he was asking a question about what the board had just done.

Meanwhile, the seasonal ferry between Tampa and St. Petersburg kicked off this month and had the seats 83 percent full the first weekend. “People are digging this service,” Turanchik says.

So what about that whole smartest-guy-in-the-room thing that seemed to rub some people wrong in the mayor’s race?

He pauses. “I think I was uptight during that campaign, and I’m a pretty happy person,” he finally says. “That’s one of my regrets. I was not myself.”

He can’t say enough about the candidate who easily fended him off (along with two city councilmen, a former judge, and a really, really rich guy) to become mayor — former Tampa Police chief Jane Castor.

“I have just immense respect for Jane,” he says. “Jane was not an accidental victory. She rocked. It was as big a mandate as you can get.”

Late one recent afternoon he was driving home from work when a big black SUV pulled alongside. The window went down and there was Castor. (The new mayor’s style is decidedly different than her predecessor, Bob Buckhorn, who is famously said to have kept a list of those who crossed him.) They exchanged pleasantries. He asked where she was headed, he says, and she said a water/wastewater meeting.

He wasn’t. And Turanchik says he was okay with that.


  1. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]
    If it helps to pull some good behavior out of my youngest, it will be $29.95 well spent.
  2. Cesar Silva walks with his 7-year-old service dog Sophia at Rotary Riverfront Park in Temple Terrace. A disabled Iraq war veteran, Silva takes Sophia with him everywhere but ran into trouble with a park ranger during a 2016 visit to Veteran’s Memorial Park. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    It started with a heated encounter between Cesar Silva, who has disabilities, and a park ranger. Silva helped bring about the same changes at city parks in 2013.
  3. Hope Children's Home Executive Director Dr. Mike Higgins shares a laugh with a group of children. He and his wife Chris came to Tampa 21 years ago. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times (2015)]
    Dr. Mike Higgins has been executive director of the facility for 21 years.
  4. Island Fin Poké Company offers freshly prepared and customizable Hawaiian style poké bowls.
    Diners can build their own bowls by choosing from seven proteins, over 25 toppings, house made sauces and mix-ins.
  5. No sign of graves was found during a survey using ground-penetrating radar at the Tax Collector's office on E Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. The survey was conducted based on a tip by a cemetery researcher. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    A tip from the man who pointed to the cemetery beneath King High School didn’t pan out this time.
  6. Tampa police have not identified the man caught on surveillance video peeping through the windows of Summer Sullivan and Anna Klettke's Ybor home. [Summer Sullivan]
    Denzel Crumbley was spotted walking into a dark alleyway near Summer Sullivan’s property, hiding behind a tree while holding onto a chain-link fence.
  7. Commissioner Pat Kemp so far is unopposed for re-election to her countywide seat in 2020. Commissioner Sandra Murman, term-limited in her district seat, is considering running against her. [Courtesy of Pat Kemp]
    The move appears to be in part a reaction to what some view as anti-growth leanings by the new Democratic majority on the Hillsborough County Commission.
  8. Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan speaks at a news conference Tuesday about a revamped mental health crisis training program for officers and 911 dispatchers. “There is, in my opinion, a crisis going in our society and my concern is not enough people are concerned about it," Dugan said. [TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero]
    All officers will receive 40 hours of training that includes sessions with experts and family members who can provide a personal perspective.
  9. A Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy responding to a domestic violence call at the Jasmine Terrace apartments on Skipper Road shot and wounded an unarmed 17-year-old on March 26. The deputy thought the teen was armed at the time. The teen was paralyzed, and the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office has ruled that the deputy will not face charges. [TONY MARRERO   l   Times] [MCKENNA OXENDEN, TONY MARRERO  |  Tony Marrero]
    A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation says Deputy Daniel Estanislau’s actions were ‘justified’ in the March 26 shooting.
  10. The Tampa Riverwalk at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in the heart of downtown Tampa.
    Tax increase added nearly $1 million in revenue so far.