1. Florida Politics

Turanchik to run "vision" campaign for Tampa mayor

TAMPA — Ed Turanchik wants Tampa's next mayoral contest to be about thinking big and outside the box.

Listen to his stump speech, offered recently to Tampa Bay Times editorial writers and reporters, and you'll hear "vision" a lot.

Once dubbed "Commissioner Choo-Choo" for his advocacy of commuter rail, the former Hillsborough County commissioner promises to push next-gen transit options, affordable housing and public-private partnerships to create a city that will be a magnet for world-changers.

"This isn't about winning the mayor's race. This is about winning the vision," Turanchik said on Friday shortly after filing. "It's not about winning the vote, it's about winning the hearts and souls."

He joins businessman Christopher "Topher" Morrison and Michael Anthony Hazard. They're widely expected to be joined by more candidates, including some combination of former Tampa police Chief Jane Castor, City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen, architect Mickey Jacob and retired banker and philanthropist David Straz for the March 2019 election.

Turanchik, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2011, said he was confident he could have won that race if he had gotten in sooner and had more time to make his case to voters. Current Mayor Bob Buckhorn won that race.

Buckhorn has done a good job "moving the ball forward," Turanchik said. If elected, he said, he'll burst "out of the blocks doing this stuff. No consultants. No three-year studies."

Affordable housing will be in the platform, he said, especially as new housing is created where people don't need a car to get around.

As for the nuts and bolts of running Florida's third largest city, Turanchik said he sees some things he'd like to fix, but is keeping that to himself for now.

Will running a city become too routine for someone who relishes the big idea?

"I like boring," he quipped.

He touts the Cross-Bay Ferry as the latest success in his longtime advocacy of mass-transit options for an increasingly clogged city. But there's no single solution, he said. Some types of rail might work in certain places, bus rapid transit in others and, perhaps, driverless shuttles in some corridors. Tampa, he said, is the perfect laboratory for the next big thing in transportation.

"The market loves Tampa. We are neither too big or too small. We're just right," he said.

Turanchik said he isn't worried about competing for campaign cash. He says his three decades of public service and advocacy have earned him legions of supporters who will knock on doors on sweaty summer nights.

And the 62-year-old attorney, who hasn't held public office since 1998, said his son encouraged him to make a run, counseling him that he wouldn't be satisfied without giving politics another try.

"I need to bring this home for a landing," Turanchik said. "I can't walk away and be a lawyer for 10 more years and not take a shot at this."

Contact Charlie Frago at or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago.