Early voting in caustic Dist. 6 runoff begins

click to enlarge Jacki Toledo addresses supporters on primary night, March 3. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Jacki Toledo addresses supporters on primary night, March 3.

Early voting polling sites are open for the sixteen or so people who still plan on voting in the runoff election between city council hopefuls Guido Maniscalco and Jackie Toledo.

Monday through Sunday, polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., so we hope poll workers brought a book.

District 6 covers a pretty diverse swath of Tampa, including Seminole Heights, West Tampa and parts of South Tampa. You'd think the two candidates, both of them political newcomers, would be talking about things like potholes, flooding and how to bring jobs.

You know, boring municipal stuff.

But alas, the same vitriolic bullshit that's alienated a generation or two from state and national politics has come into play here, shadowy third-party PAC-funded mailers and all.

Party politics, too. While Republicans are gunning for Toledo, a civil engineer, Democrats are largely backing Maniscalco, who runs a watch repair business, though support for each doesn't fall entirely along party lines.

Toledo's camp has attacked Maniscalco for financial trouble his family's jewelry store got into during the recession, when he was barely out of college.

Maniscalco's people, meanwhile, are harshly criticizing Toledo for superimposing herself in front of the City of Tampa seal and filming a campaign ad on an active road construction site without Florida Department of Transportation permission. They've also slammed her for refusing to debate.

The attacks got so bad that a handful of current Tampa City Council members sent out a statement Friday calling for everyone to chill the hell out:

While none of us are strangers to the rough and tumble of the political process, we find the introduction of third party attacks that cannot be traced to be a very alarming and destructive development. In our view, candidates have an affirmative responsibility to stand behind attacks that are made on their opponents or to unambiguously denounce them. We believe this is a bedrock virtue of our democracy.

One of the merits of our nonpartisan municipal elections is that they have traditionally avoided the rancor and deception that have so damaged the political process at the state and national level. To protect the integrity of the process, voters should send a clear message rejecting this type of anonymous negative campaigning and be leery of unsourced, unverified attacks. Only by careful consideration and due diligence will these unsavory elements not have their desired effect and, hopefully, disappear from our election process.

Council members Yvonne "Yolie" Capin, Harry Cohen, Frank Reddick, Mike Suarez and Mary Mulhern signed the document, but, notably, the names of council members Lisa Montelione and Charlie Miranda were missing.

The election is Tuesday, March 24, when polls in the district will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections website.

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