Election Day in Tampa; TIA boss shows he's serious; and Tim Pawlenty announces he's "exploring" running for president: Mitch Perry Report 3.22.11

It has been a dream for years of both Rose Ferlita and Bob Buckhorn to be the mayor of Tampa.  Buckhorn struck out trying to do so eight years ago, and through a crazy confluence of events, stands on the precipice of achieving a dream he's perhaps had for half his life.

Tampa native Ferlita came to politics later in life, as she ran for office for the first time 12 years ago at the age of 53, barely winning that first race for City Council against Scott Paine.  She's never lost an election since, and gathered the most votes of the five talented candidates running for mayor three weeks ago.  Her support in the community is strong — but can it pull through for her tonight?  We'll know in about 12 hours from now.

There are also four Tampa City Council races on various ballots today.  Theoretically all four races should be close, and though we're not offering predictions, we really don't know who will win the District 3 citywide race between Yolie Capin and Chris Hart.

On to other news for today.  A big player in Tampa's development is its International Airport, and the new CEO of that facility, Joe Lopano, made news yesterday by firing long-time air service development director Trudy Carson.

Big news was also happening yesterday here in Ybor City, when a labor attorney nobody on the HART board had ever heard of ended up convincing nine of its 10 members that they should suspend (with pay) the CEO of HART, David Armijo, for two weeks, so that a full investigation could be undertaken without employees fearing reprisal.  Check out our coverage here.

Tim Pawlenty is running for president.  And the federal trial of former baseball slugger Barry Bonds, which has already cost taxpayers as much as $50 million, begins in San Francisco.  Something about lying about steroids is the issue, we understand.

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