Here are the 23 people who are vying for Tampa's vacant City Council seat

The candidates are set to be interviewed by council on Tuesday, April 5.

click to enlarge Tampa City Hall - City of Tampa/Twitter
City of Tampa/Twitter
Tampa City Hall
Over the past three weeks, 25 people have applied to the District 3 at-large city council position, which was made vacant after former councilman John Dingfelder was forced to resign as part of a public records lawsuit by a local developer.

Applications for the seat are now closed, and City Council is set to interview the applicants next Tuesday. Council will have to make its selection the same day. Of the 25 applicants originally applied, only 23 are scheduled to be interviewed. Two candidates were removed from consideration for not living within Tampa city limits.

The remaining applicants come from diverse backgrounds and have served an array of organizations in Tampa. All of the information below is taken from the candidates' applications to city council. Their full applications can be found at the City of Tampa's website.

Here's a brief rundown of each applicant:

Dr. Sonja Patric Brookins
A professor at Keiser University and a member of several Tampa Bay civic groups including the Ybor City Rotary International and the Democratic Environmental Caucus, Brookins seeks the council seat to "effectuate change to transform Tampa Bay into the very best city in the world for all of its residents."

Connie Burton
Burton has been an activist in Tampa for about 40 years, pushing for fair housing and justice for the Black community. Currently, she works as an organizer for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. She's a member of the NAACP and other social justice organizations, and regularly appears to speak at council about local issues.  Burton seeks the council seat out of a "love for the people who are less fortunate."

James Chittenden
Chittenden works for business-advising and communications groups and has served on the city's budget advisory committee. His priorities include: transit, public safety, jobs and a diversification of Tampa's economic base. He says he has a "deep understanding of the economic and cultural landscape" of Tampa, from his experience on boards.

Dr. Carolyn Hepburn-Collins
Hepburn-Collins has served as president of Hillsborough NAACP, was a member of the Tampa Organization for Black Affairs and currently sits on the Jackson House Foundation Board of Directors. The retired Hepburn-Collins seeks the council seat to "deliver outstanding services that enhance the quality of life and foster a more sustainable and liveable city."

Thomas W. Connelly
A member of neighborhood associations and church groups, Connelly, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, wants to help the citizens of Tampa "realize our full potential." Connelly believes he can serve as a unifying force between council and Mayor Jane Castor's administration, to "work in unison for the betterment of all the residents of Tampa."

Robert L. "Pete" Edwards
Edwards has served on the Board of Directors for Housing by St. Laurence Inc., along with several Hillsborough County School groups. He is retired, and is the host of the "Let's Talk About It" radio show on WTMP 1150-AM. Edwards says this is his third time applying for an interim council position and that he is "highly qualified" and would "not be bogged down in a long learning curve.

Ron Fair
An engineer and business owner, Fair says that he will "bring balance to the council by helping issues to better bring issues to better light." Fair says that 70% of fixing the problem is defining the problem, and that he will bring that to Tampa's City Council.

Thomas Feaster
For the past 31 years, Feaster has served as the President of The Stewards Foundation, a corporate real estate company. He's served on several boards, including the Merchant's Association of Florida. He was the adjunct professor of real estate at University of Tampa, and says he will "approach  complicated issues in a way that brings collaboration and fairness."

Meredith A. Freeman
Freeman is a real estate lawyer who currently works for the firm Shutts and Bowen LLP. She is the chair of the board of directors for Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, and serves on the board of the nonprofit One Tampa Inc. Freeman wants to bring her 17 years of construction real estate law experience to council to "make sure that our growth is smart, ethical, affordable and attainable." Several sources have claimed that Freeman is Mayor Jane Castor's favorite for council. Over half of Castor's campaign PAC was funded by developers.

Connie Elizabeth Gage
Gage is a real estate professional who works for Smith and Associates Real Estate. She has served on several boards, including for Metropolitan Ministries and the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She has also served six years on the city's Land Use Appeals Board. She wants to serve to make positive change in Tampa, and to correct problems that need attention.

Natasha L. Goodley
Goodley has served on the East Tampa Community Revitalization Partnership committee, as well as the Hillsborough County Urban League, NAACP and several other groups. She is the senior consultant for White and Black consulting. She wants to serve on council to make sure that progress in the city is equitable, and to help Tampa be a "progressive city that works for everyone."

D.C. Goutoufas
Proprietor of several companies, including lawn care, Goutoufas wants to serve on council to "move Tampa forward with breaking the barriers and making history." He's a fourth generation Tampeño, who has served on numerous boards. "My background, qualifications, and life experiences—which include overcoming a disability—will bring unique diversity and representation to the table," he wrote in his application.

Allison A. Hewitt
Hewitt is the President and CEO of Alison A. Hewitt and Associates. She has served on several boards, including for Hillsborough Regional Transit and Keep Florida Beautiful. A resident of Tampa for 45 years, Hewitt says she understands the work of city council is not easy. "We are on the cusp of significant changes and the decision we make today are going to significantly impact the livability of Tampa for generations to come," Hewitt wrote in her application.

Parker Alexander Homans
Self-employed interior designer Parker Alexander Homans has served on the Tampa Housing authority Board of Commissioners and the City of Tampa Human Rights Board, along with several other groups. Homans has lived in Tampa since 2013 and is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Homans says he can "bring new and important perspectives to the Tampa City Council."

Amanda Lynn Hurtak
Hurtak is a technical editor and consultant who has served in various capacities of City of Tampa government. She served on the Variance Review Board, as well as the Tampa Charter Review Commission. She's a member of the ACLU and is the current vice president of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association. Hurtak was born in Tampa and says that "service on City Council is the logical next step to continue my efforts toward making our city the thriving and inclusive community I believe it can be."

Julie Jenkins
Jenkins is the Director of Donor Relations at Evergreen Life Services of Florida. She's served on several corporate and community organizations, including the Disability Caucus of Hillsborough County and Plant High School PTSA.  "My experiences and social skills can help bring diverse groups together and solve problems and move the city forward....I will work to ensure every citizen and business is heard," Jenkins wrote.

Kella McCaskill
A self-employed real-estate professional, McCaskill is the president of the Center for Economic Development where she currently serves the President. She's was born and raised in Tampa, and says that through her various advocacy initiatives, she was contacted by various community members and organizations requesting that she represent them as a council member. "After reflecting upon the conditions of the City for working people I realized how great the need for assistance," she wrote.

Patrick Murphy
Murphy is a partner at Lorenzo and Lorenzo P.A., a firm that specializes in auto accident, medical malpractice and wrongful death law. He has experience in real estate and the military and believes he can translate those experiences into insights and solutions for Tampa. "I want to serve on the council to help implement and facilitate effective ordinances and regulations to make sure our city runs smoothly," he wrote.

Thomas Scott

In his work as a pastor at 34th Street Church of God, Scott says he's learned leadership skills that he can bring to council. He has been affiliated with Feeding Tampa Bay and the NAACP, as well as other local charitable groups. "I am well acquainted with the operation and function of Tampa City Council. I want to give back to the community," he wrote.

Tamara Shamburger
Shamburger is an insurance agent who runs Shamburger Insurance Group. She's served on several community boards, including Children's Board of Hillsborough County and previously served on the Hillsborough County School board. She's running for council to "ensure that all decisions continue to be informed by diverse opinion and input." She was born and raised in Tampa and is well versed in local government, she says.

Vibha Shevade
Shevade is a broker for NextHome Frontier, a real estate company. She's a member of the Tampa Tiger Bay Club and the New Tampa Democratic Club. Shevade is running because she wants to see more diversity and female representation on council. She also sees how housing has become a stressful situation with first time home buyers and renters. "I want to serve each neighborhood equally and efficiently," she wrote.

A. Kendall Trosky
Trosky is a broker associate realtor, who was a University of Tampa Board Fellow and volunteered for the Tampa General Foundation and Spring of Tampa Bay. Trosky says their goal as a city council member will be to make Tampa a safe, diverse, environmentally sensitive, economically affordable, a reasonably sound development community and a city of opportunity.

Carroll "Carrie" West

West is the former president of the "Gaybor District Coalition", and a former board member of the Ybor Youth Clinic. West is a retired U.S. Air Force veteran, who wants to help local service personnel. West lists their workplace as Tampa Pride, Inc and says they're joining council to "fulfill obligations and needs of the citizens of Tampa."


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Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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