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Tampa City Council names Reddick its new chairman

TAMPA — For all the political intrigue, it took the Tampa City Council just one anticlimactic minute Wednesday to elect Frank Reddick as its new chairman.

Reddick has urged colleagues to rotate the position. He wrested the post from Charlie Miranda in a 4-3 vote during the organizational meeting after the council and Mayor Bob Buckhorn were sworn into office at a Tampa Convention Center ceremony.

Miranda had held the chairmanship for four years.

Only Miranda and Reddick were nominated. As is the council's tradition, the candidates for the post and their colleagues engaged in no debate.

"I just wish that I can serve with humanity as well as dignity and maintain the integrity that we have always had with our previous chairman, Mr. Miranda," Reddick said. "And I would hope I can count on my friend and colleague Mr. Miranda to help guide me through this process as we move forward for the next year."

Council members Mike Suarez, Yvonne Yolie Capin and Guido Maniscalco voted for Reddick, while council members Lisa Montelione and Harry Cohen sided with Miranda.

Reddick said in an interview that rotating the chair is only fair.

"We're all seven of us elected members of the community," Reddick said. "We're all equal. No one should dominate any one position. You should have the opportunity to get the experience and interact with the mayor and other department heads. This is an opportunity for other people to get that valuable experience."

Under Florida's open government law, council members can't discuss topics outside their meetings that they might later vote on. But that doesn't stop supporters of council members from lobbying for their candidate.

Miranda expressed no disappointment.

"I wish him all the best," Miranda said. "There's no problem not being chair. I've enjoyed it for some period of time. You know, the world keeps moving around. It keeps rotating on its axis. And so do I."

Some argue the chairperson carries the prestige of the bully pulpit. The chair can influence the tone of meetings and appoint people to a variety of city committees and boards.

One perk is that if the mayor leaves office early — as some speculate Buckhorn might do if he decides to run for governor in 2018 — the chair becomes acting mayor with a big pay hike — $42,078 to $150,000.

Because the chair is selected annually, winning the post this year doesn't mean Reddick will hold the seat if Buckhorn makes a run.

But both Miranda and Reddick have said they don't give a hoot about becoming mayor.

After the vote, Reddick gave a hearty handshake to Suarez, viewed as the swing vote in the chairman's selection, and thanked him for his support.

Suarez said in an interview he thought Miranda had done a "terrific job" as chair. He said he just thought it was time to give somebody else a shot.

Noting Reddick supports rotating the chairmanship annually, Suarez said, "Hopefully he'll feel the same way in another year."

Contact William R. Levesque at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432.

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