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Meet the people looking to unseat Tampa Mayor Jane Castor

Both of them are little-known and have raised almost no money.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor so far faces two little-known challengers as she seeks a second term.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor so far faces two little-known challengers as she seeks a second term. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Dec. 3, 2022

Rumors continue to swirl of a prominent re-election challenger to Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, though so far none has filed, announced or publicly discussed the move.

It’s rare for incumbent Tampa mayors to face serious challenges.

But meanwhile, two individuals have filed — Belinda Noah of New Tampa, a lawyer who has run for office several times before, and Jeff Godsell of Forest Hills, a first-time candidate and personal chef with a varied career background.

Neither had raised substantial campaign funds by the end of October — Godsell $100 and Noah nothing.

But both expressed confidence.

“I definitely plan to win,” said Noah.

Godsell said he “had a calling from God” to run — “I had a dream that I should be doing something else in the environment.”

Godsell, 52, said the city needs to do more to combat human trafficking and drug trafficking and protect water sources from pollution. He advocated a “sponge city” approach to controlling flooding that he said would store floodwater safely.

A former chef at The Don Cesar hotel who has also worked in automobile sales, he now works in a “personal chef” business with his wife, offering in-home dinner parties.

Godsell had hoped to qualify by petition, but says his hopes for that are dimming; and he may have to pay the $10,539 fee.

An internet search turned up a Crowdpac page seeking donations and petition signatures as his only online campaign presence.

Noah, 68, a Republican. filed this year for a county judgeship, then switched to a circuit court race, unsuccessfully. She ran for the U.S. Senate as a no-party candidate in 2006 and as a write-in in 2010.

She said city employees are unhappy about Castor’s mandates for COVID-19 masking and vaccines and noted a federal investigation into a crime-free housing program that led to evictions.

“We need new leadership here in Tampa, someone who’s going to respect all the citizens in Tampa,” she said.

In 2012, according to court documents, Noah agreed to cease bankruptcy practice for two years after a disciplinary action by the U.S. Bankruptcy court in which she was accused of practice “below acceptable standards.” She denied the accusations.

In 2014 she was suspended from practice for 30 days by the Florida Bar and fined investigative costs of $1,984 in a case linked to the bankruptcy court action.

Noah called that “the only blemish on my outstanding career … out of hundreds of clients.”