By Jim Bleyer
I feel like Commissioner Gordon who resorts to sending up the bat signal in times of distress.
And I’ve got plenty of company.
The six candidates who have declared to run in 2019 for mayor of Tampa just cannot be the best a city of 385,000 has to offer. I have resided in Orlando, Tallahassee, and Sarasota. Frankly, the Tampa slate’s lack of quality is quite shocking.
Two candidates, Jane Castor, a racist, and David Straz, a former honorary ambassador and a supreme elitist, have no connection to the average voter. They would be considered jokes except their names will appear on the ballot. Neither meets people easily; neither has shown a grasp of important issues; neither attends any public function without at least one handler.
Tampa Bay Beat has published several articles chronicling the duo’s considerable baggage and just how awful they would be for the city.
Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen, both term-limited city councilmen, are also campaigning for mayor. During their tenure a racist bully led Tampa into the 19th century. Bob Buckhorn can easily be labeled a bully because no one had the guts to stand up to his reported threats, epithets, taunts, and tantrums.
Former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik is called “a visionary” by the local mainstream media and he welcomes that characterization. But it is an unearned sobriquet. Turanchik is more comfortable shaking hands with old-time, status quo-loving Tampans who can bolster his war chest than meeting with East Tampa voters, mostly black, that suffer from seven years of city hall neglect.
Progressives as well as people of color are disenchanted with the tenor and trajectory of Turanchik’s campaign and have gone elsewhere or are sending up bat signals.
The sixth candidate, business advisor Topher Morrison, is the only candidate that has not held a high-profile elected or appointed government position. In this race, that should be considered a definite plus.
When Morrison filed, his candidacy was derided on the down low by local long-in-the-tooth warhorses including some of his opponents. A local media entity published two dopey columns on the same day about Morrison. Instead of seriously introducing a fresh face and his vision for the city to the public, the “writers” dwelt on hypnotism. Idiotic.
But Morrison has new ideas that need to be heard. His warm, straightforward demeanor on the campaign trail stands out from his five opponents. Unlike all but Cohen, Morrison isn’t afraid to talk with voters regardless of economic or social standing.
Voters just don’t know enough about him yet.
Meanwhile, Tampa remains a third tier American city thanks to the self-aggrandizing, backward thinking Buckhorn and a dying, obsolete, complicit, corrupted mainstream media.
Tampa can only dream of being seriously considered for economic treasures like Amazon HQ2. Guess who oversees and possesses expertise in the high-tech industry? Millenials. People of color. Immigrants. Progressive thinkers.
Those groups are light years ahead of Tampa leadership and the current socio-political climate here. A major high-tech startup or relocation would be a crowning achievement but Tampa needs contemporary thinking and the shedding of its image of massive corruption to land such a prize.
Meanwhile, here’s what Tampa attracts: the relocation of phosphate mining giant Mosaic’s headquarters. Its nearby operations have been vandalizing the Florida landscape for decades.
The city needs a leader who embraces immigrants, minorities, and Millennials. A salesperson who can successfully pitch the city, not himself or herself. Someone not afraid to go into a neighborhood and address residents’ grievances. A mayor without a neanderthal bunker mentality. One that does not use law enforcement to harass and ticket political enemies. Somebody with fortitude that would engage a bully that uses those tactics. A leader that would sign on to a clean energy pledge and not deny manmade climate change.
Maybe the Caped Crusader will concoct a winning formula in his lab. Tampans deserve quality options.