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  1. Florida Politics

Tampa political candidate forums scheduled

TAMPA — Now that the ballot is set, Tampa voters will have a chance to get acquainted with City Council candidates.

Candidate forums scheduled so far include:

• A coalition of South Tampa neighborhood associations representing about 20,000 residents will hold a City Council candidates forum on Feb. 11 at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 4311 W San Miguel St.

Candidates in all five contested council races have been invited. The event starts with a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., followed by a two-hour forum at 6:30 p.m.

Sponsoring associations include Sunset Park, Virginia Park, Bayside West, Bayshore Beautiful, Gandy/Sun Bay South, Culbreath Heights, Swann Estates, Port Tampa and the Bayshore Condominium Council.

The forum is free and open to the public.

• The Tampa Bay Young Republicans will host a council candidate forum at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk (formerly the Howard Johnson Plaza), at 111 W Fortune St., just north of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

The forum is open to the public. Tampa elections are nonpartisan. The Hillsborough County Young Democrats held a meet-and-greet for council candidates at Angry Chair Brewing in Seminole Heights in mid December.

Tampa city elections are March 3, with early voting running from Feb. 23 through March 1. The deadline to register to vote is Feb. 2.

District 6 endorsements

The City Council's District 6 race promises to be one of the most competitive, with two candidates touting endorsements from elected officials:

• Incumbent City Council member Mary Mulhern is backing jewelry retailer and civic activist Guido Maniscalco.

"Guido has proven himself to be dedicated to the support of our neighborhoods and is a champion for small businesses," Mulhern said in a statement released by Maniscalco's campaign. "That commitment will serve our city well."

• State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, supports civil engineer Jackie Toledo.

"Jackie's energy and tireless dedication to this community are exactly the traits we need from the new members serving on the Tampa City Council," Lee said in a statement released through Toledo's campaign. "I'm confident in her ability to be a good steward of taxpayer initiatives and dollars and am proud to lend my support to her campaign."

District 6 covers parts of South Tampa and West Tampa. It is currently represented by council Chairman Charlie Miranda, who is term-limited in that seat and is running for the citywide District 2 seat that will come open when Mulhern steps down in April because of term limits. Also running is West Tampa air-conditioning company owner Tommy Castellano.

Mayor pings donors after write-in qualifies

How much campaign fundraising is enough? If you are Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and you get opposition — any opposition — $365,000 is not enough.

At noon Saturday, 24 hours after qualifying closed with Jose Vazquez qualified as a write-in in the mayor's race, Buckhorn sent supporters a fundraising email with the subject line "Not done yet" and an appeal that read: With all the great things going on in Tampa, we cannot afford to miss a beat. If you believe we're on the right path, can you contribute $25, $50, or $100 today?

In a fundraising report filed late on Jan. 16, Buckhorn reported raising a total of $365,168 in cash and another $3,734 in in-kind donations of goods or services as of Jan. 9. His biggest expenditure has been $166,500 on television ads.

The latest round of fundraising reports show City Council fundraising totals (cash and in-kind) of:

• $6,487 by Susan Long and $41,101 by Mike Suarez in District 1.

• $6,175 by Joseph Citro, $5,665 for Julie Jenkins and $25,000 for Charlie Miranda in District 2. (Miranda got into the race Jan. 14 and his own money was the sole source of his campaign's finances as of Jan. 9.)

• $71,911 by Yvonne Yolie Capin and $4,380 by Paul Erni in District 3.

• $86,971 by Harry Cohen and $38,418 by Kent King in District 4.

• $36,279 by Tommy Castellano, $24,468 by Guido Maniscalco and $97,415 by Jackie Toledo in District 6.

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