In Tampa City Council District 3, incumbent Lynn Hurtak is a much better choice than Janet Cruz

Cruz saw her 12-year run in the Florida Legislature come to an end last fall.

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click to enlarge Lynn Hurtak was the only candidate endorsed by the Hillsborough LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, - Photo by Dave Decker
Photo by Dave Decker
Lynn Hurtak was the only candidate endorsed by the Hillsborough LGBTQ Democratic Caucus,
The District 3 race has a somewhat crowded field, but only two candidates are clear front runners. Just one of those candidates has a track record on city council and not lobbed false claims of homophobia at her opponent—that’s incumbent Lynn Hurtak.

After being appointed to the seat last April following the contentious exit of John Dingfelder, Hurtak—a copy editor and writing consultant—has proven to be a studious, and relentless councilwoman who knows the issues up and down. She’s worked with the mayor to establish renter assistance programs, while also advocating for more aggressive relief for struggling Tampeños.

Hurtak’s opponent, Janet Cruz, saw her 12-year run in the Florida Legislature come to an end last fall when she lost to Republican newcomer Jay Collins. Cruz’s defeat was part of the shellacking Florida Democrats got after trotting out tired candidates, old ideas and even more worn-out, ineffective messaging that basically said, “vote for me, because I’m not a Republican!” Late last month at a NAACP forum, Cruz expressed frustration with Hurtak challenging the mayor on difficult issues, then asked her, “Do you have a problem with gay people?” The false accusation and injection of homophobia into the race drew boos (Hurtak was the only candidate endorsed by the Hillsborough LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, after all), and Cruz failed to appear at local forums for the rest of the week.

The meltdown was indicative of a candidate who’s gotten used to running races defined by broad topics and ideology, instead of the tiny and extremely tiring ones that Hurtak seems to have grown accustomed to in her short time on council.

A recent mailer attacking Hurtak (funded by a Democratic South Florida political operative, nonetheless) is more proof that the political machine is flailing—and recent campaign finance analysis by Creative Loafing Tampa Bay shows that more than half of Cruz’s financial support comes from big-ticket donors and entities outside of Tampa.

In a statement to CL, a campaign manager for Cruz responded to the discrepancy in local fundraising by saying that “businesses and families from across the country are looking at Tampa as a world-class destination.”

Cruz likes to tout that she’s from Tampa, but so is Hurtak (who was born at St. Joseph’s in 1977). At a time when regular Tampeños need their elected officials to fight for them more than ever, the city deserves a candidate who will answer questions directly and show up to face the music even after a gaffe.

Despite an awkward endorsement from the mayor herself (Castor is the partner of Ana Cruz, Janet’s daughter), some local publications have been willing to look over the fact that Cruz on council may present a conflict of interest.

“Voters would have ample opportunity to watch and hold Cruz accountable if that relationship affects her performance,” the Tampa Bay Times wrote in its recommendation. “Cruz has demonstrated her independence throughout her career and deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

Unfortunately for Cruz, the mayor’s judgment and history of not-disclosing important municipal matters should be enough to make voters say, “No thanks.”

CL endorses Lynn Hurtak for Tampa City Council District 3.

See all of CL's endorsements and charter amendment recommendations here.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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