The Tampa City Council plays a pivotal role in the dynamic growth of the region's biggest city. Its members should work with the mayor to make critical investments in transportation, job development and aging infrastructure to ensure neighborhoods maintain and improve their quality of life. Council races are nonpartisan. Members are elected to four-year terms and paid $46,238 per year. District seats 1, 2 and 3 are elected citywide. Early voting begins Feb. 25, and Election Day is March 5.
Joseph Citro's candidacy for council is the next natural step in his 16 years of public service to the city. His experience, well-rounded perspective and civic activism make him the ideal fit for this citywide district.
Citro, 60, has an extensive record of community service since moving to the area in 1974. His work on various city boards — overseeing the city charter, code enforcement, civil service and other core government functions — indicates Citro is not afraid to get his hands dirty. These are not glamorous posts. But improving the appeal of neighborhoods, or the quality of city staff, benefits residents and businesses alike. It reflects a dedication to Tampa and an awareness of what local office means. Citro knows every corner of the city, and his practicality, open demeanor and sense of fairness would make him an effective council member.
Citro's top priority is ensuring Tampa's budget is sturdy enough to withstand any economic shocks in the coming years. He would shift more resources to code enforcement and permitting, which is smart given the city's construction growth in recent years. He supports new mass transit projects and greater collaboration with nonprofits to expand affordable housing.
Craig A. Newman, 63, a South Tampa neighborhood leader and retired chiropractor, has a deft understanding of city issues and a proven ability to act on neighborhood concerns. Like Citro, he would be visible citywide and focus on the basics. Alan Clendenin, 59, a retired air traffic controller, and Walter L. Smith II, 45, a middle school science teacher, are sensible candidates with responsible agendas. David Loos, 37, who helps design workplace environments, has promising ideas to improve the neighborhoods but his agenda needs sharpening.
This is Citro's fourth attempt to win a council seat, which reflects his determination to serve the city in a higher capacity. Citro understands the city, and his belief in the impact of local government is inspiring.
For Tampa City Council District 1, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Joseph Citro.
There's no secret to why Charlie Miranda is Tampa's longest-serving elected official. He has a level head, he is accessible and he conveys the needs and concerns of Tampa's working class like no other in city government. He deserves another term.
Miranda, 78, a state horse racing steward and former small business manager, is the embodiment of the people's representative at City Hall. He makes the rounds daily, and those who grab him at the grocery or the Cuban coffee shops can rest assured he will follow up on their problems with potholes or flooding or uncollected garbage. He knows that small things matter and can make or break a neighborhood. His sense of responsibility and constituent service is too rare in public service today.
Miranda is the city's leading voice on water issues and the council's strongest voice for addressing the city's aging water and wastewater lines. He has worked for years to ensure the city has adequate water resources to grow. He also understands the threat that a deteriorating infrastructure poses to the renewal of Tampa's urban core. Miranda wants to make code enforcement more proactive and give neighborhood associations a stronger voice. He is a strong supporter of upgrading technology and equipment for police, and he wants Tampa police to expand the use of body cameras.
Joe Robinson, 64, a professional engineer and civic activist, wants to focus on expanding economic opportunities in Tampa and making neighborhood developments more sustainable. His concern for ensuring that neighborhoods retain their character amid Tampa's explosive urban growth is shared by many council candidates this election. Robinson has sought elected office in the past and is a forceful advocate who does his homework, but he can turn off people at times. First-time candidate John Godwin, a 31-year old data manager, has fresh ideas for modernizing the city's approach to land development and housing. But he has fewer local connections that are key for effectively representing this citywide district.
Miranda's command of the issues and institutional history make him invaluable for council members and mayors alike. He more than anyone on the council sees the impact of city decisions on pensioners, immigrants and others left out of Tampa's emerging-city narrative.
For Tampa City Council District 2, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Charlie Miranda.
John Dingfelder has served this community well in a variety of capacities, from working as a public school teacher, civil rights activist and mediator to a stint on the Tampa City Council. His experience, common sense and close relationship with the neighborhoods make him by far the best choice for this citywide seat.
Dingfelder, 62, served on council from 2003 to 2010 before leaving due to term limits. He was a strong neighborhood advocate who supported sensible growth, mass transit and quality of life concerns, from better sidewalks and street lighting to the preservation of the city's tree canopy. The new transportation tax Hillsborough County voters approved in November gives Tampa the ability to advance Dingfelder's long-held ideas for strengthening local mass transit connections, designing safer streets and using technology to ease traffic congestion.
Dingfelder wants to bring a more exacting eye to development proposals, have the city work closer with nonprofits on youth services, and become more active in the budget process. His return would give the council some institutional heft, and his collegial style would help foster a good working relationship between a new council and a new mayor.
Nicholas Glover, 36, an energy services executive, is one of the brightest first-time candidates in this election cycle. He brings a sense of urgency in addressing housing, transportation and other serious issues. Stephen Lytle, 36, a corporate human relations manager, has a deep knowledge of city issues and strong civic connections. Vibha Shevade, a 38-year-old Realtor, would focus on road and public safety improvements.
Dingfelder has a record of accomplishment his opponents cannot match, and he knows how to advance his meaningful agenda. His sense of fairness will help ensure that all city neighborhoods receive equal treatment. For Tampa City Council District 3, the Tampa Bay Times recommends John Dingfelder.