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Tampa City Council District 1 race: Clendenin and Brookins head for runoff while Citro loses

Incumbent Council member Joseph Citro lost reelection as two challengers move on to an April 25 runoff.
 
Alan Clendenin, 63, right, a candidate for Tampa City Council in District 1, waves to a passerby as Chris Mitchell, 38, of Orlando, left, looks on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Tampa. He finished as the top vote-getter with 40% of the vote and heads to the April 25 runoff against Sonja Brookins.
Alan Clendenin, 63, right, a candidate for Tampa City Council in District 1, waves to a passerby as Chris Mitchell, 38, of Orlando, left, looks on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Tampa. He finished as the top vote-getter with 40% of the vote and heads to the April 25 runoff against Sonja Brookins. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published March 8, 2023|Updated March 8, 2023

Voters sent incumbent Tampa City Council member Joseph Citro to a stunning defeat Tuesday, picking challengers Alan Clendenin and Sonja Brookins as their preferred choices for the citywide District 1 seat.

Clendenin, a retired air traffic controller, led with 40% of the vote with all precincts reporting. Brookins, a professor of anatomy, physiology and microbiology at Keiser University, received almost 22.5%, according to unofficial returns. They will meet in the April 25 runoff.

“I don’t want to get too excited yet,” Brookins said when some precincts were still to be reported. “I’m nervous right now.”

“It’s like a dream coming true to me,” she said.

Sonja P. Brookins, 2023 candidate for Tampa City Council, finished second in the race for the citywide District l seat and is headed for the April 25 runoff election.
Sonja P. Brookins, 2023 candidate for Tampa City Council, finished second in the race for the citywide District l seat and is headed for the April 25 runoff election. [ handout ]

With all 123 precincts reporting, Citro finished third with 20% of the vote and Chase Harrison received 17.1%

The result is a setback for Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. Citro has been a reliable supporter of most of the mayor’s positions and she formally endorsed his candidacy over the weekend. But Citro also had to overcome the publicity surrounding his City Council wages being garnished to pay off credit card debt. Citro, 64, owns a hair salon and is completing his first term on the council.

Clendenin said he was disappointed by the mayor’s decision to endorse one of his opponents.

“I’ve had a good relationship, a working relationship with the mayor. I hope to, as a City Council member, to have a good relationship with the mayor. It’s just one event. I look forward to being on council and being successful for the city,” he said.

Citro, current chairperson of the City Council, planned no social gathering to await the returns Tuesday evening and had predicted a runoff.

“I’m confident I’ll be the top receiver of votes but I don’t think it’s going to be a runaway,” Citro said earlier. ““I’m going to save my Election Day party for April.”

Tampa City Council member Joseph Citro, District 1,  campaigns outside of the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Tampa. he finished third and did not qualify for the April 25 runoff election.
Tampa City Council member Joseph Citro, District 1, campaigns outside of the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library Tuesday, March 7, 2023 in Tampa. he finished third and did not qualify for the April 25 runoff election. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Clendenin had a similar sentiment.

“I can’t imagine having this many candidates and not having a runoff,” he said.

Clendenin credited his campaign team for his strong showing, plus the decision to begin campaigning early.

“Honestly, it was the people around me. I was the face and the name on the ballot, but I had a bunch of good people who really kind of lifted me up. they did a great job.”

This not the first time Citro and Clendenin shared the ballot. Citro bested Clendenin in the 2019 election when Citro won more than 31% of the vote to be the top finisher. Clendenin finished third, failing to make the runoff.

Citro and earlier got the backing from the Tampa firefighters union. Clendenin was supported by the Tampa Police Benevolent Association.

Citro has called for greater spending on an expanded city staff for public safety, code enforcement, parks and recreation, as well as building additional fire stations. Clendenin said the city’s transportation deficit is its biggest spending need.

Brookins, in an interview with the Tampa Chamber of Commerce, compared the City Council to the people’s court in which council members hear citizens’ concerns and issues and act to meet their constituents’ stated needs.