By Jim Bleyer
Joe Citro doesn’t take “no” for an answer, even a resounding one.
In his world, it’s four strikes and you may be out.
He is the same guy that first ran for Tampa City Council in 2007 with one difference: he switched his party registration from Republican to Democrat after a trio of lopsided losses.
The obvious hope: putting a “D” next to his name in a predominately Democratic city will boost his previously intractable vote total some 40 points and propel him to victory in the spring, 2019 non-partisan city election. He has filed in District 1 and, though no one else has formally announced, expect two to three other players when they go to the post.
Citro reminds one of the nerd disguised as the hipster, a la Donald Trump.
One longtime Democratic observer of the Tampa political scene, who wished anonymity, scoffed at any notion that Citro is electable, regardless of his party affiliation.
“Joe Citro is a lifelong Republican and a lifelong failed politician. He has run for City Council three times as a registered Republican, failing each time. After his most recent loss, he decided to see if he could fool the Tampa voters by switching his registration to being a Democrat,” the source suggested.
“Unfortunately for him, however, being a Republican is not why he has never been able to earn more than 10 percent of the vote. He has always had laughably low levels of support (both in votes and donations) because he doesn’t actually stand for anything, he disdains speaking with common residents, and his campaigns are exercises in stroking his own ego.”
Despite weeks of reaching out by Tampa Bay Beat, Citro refused to be interviewed about his candidacy, his ideas for the future of Tampa, and his party affiliation epiphany. Several local politicos, all Democrats, say lack of communication is a Citro trademark and more the source of taking merciless beatings at the polls than being a Republican.
One progressive Democrat said Citro has never reached out to the black community and has responded negatively to “Tea and Conversation,” an important event scheduled this Saturday.
Citro reportedly believes he is owed a council seat because he has served on several boards and committees. But it doesn’t mean much, according to those who have served with him. One damning assessment:
“His modus operandi is to take a picture of the agenda at the beginning of the meeting and post it to social media, tag all the people in the room who he thinks are the most important, then spend the meeting playing on his phone.”
We would have loved to ask Citro about his first run for council in 2007. The main plank in his platform always has been his “desire to serve” with few other specifics but he chose to run against incumbent John Dingfelder, who was one of the Council’s progressive voices.
So, while Dingfelder was helping the city move forward, Citro decided to try to oust him. Citro can’t claim to want to move Tampa forward when he has tried to remove one of its most accomplished council members.
Oh, and Citro snared just over five percent of the vote against Dingfelder.