Runoff in election for Seminole Heights district; other Tampa elections shake out predictably

click to enlarge Runoff in election for Seminole Heights district; other Tampa elections shake out predictably - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Runoff in election for Seminole Heights district; other Tampa elections shake out predictably

We knew Mayor Bob Buckhorn was going to get re-elected Tuesday night. Dude got nearly 96 percent of the vote.

Same goes for the four other sitting city council members facing re-election; even Councilman Charlie Miranda, who jumped from his District 6 seat for the citywide District 2 seat (and came within ten points of a runoff in his three-way race).


So the race was largely low-key.

Of course, there's always an exception.

One race's outcome didn't fit the same mold as the others, largely because it had no incumbents.

The race for Tampa's District 6 seat, which encompasses West Tampa, Ybor and Seminole Heights, was somewhat of a nail-biter for those paying attention. Tommy Castellano, Guido Maniscalco and Jackie Toledo were contending for the seat in a race that got pretty negative toward the end, one where party politics were a tad bit in play. 

None of the candidates were able to capture at least 50 percent of the vote, though, which means there'll be a runoff between the top two vote-getters, Toledo and Maniscalco, who got 46 and 29 percent, respectively, on March 24.

click to enlarge Guido Maniscalco shakes hands with West Tampa resident Maurio Rendina. Grandson Miles Brady, 7, in the center. - Kimberly DeFalco
Kimberly DeFalco
Guido Maniscalco shakes hands with West Tampa resident Maurio Rendina. Grandson Miles Brady, 7, in the center.
“If she can't win tonight, she's not going to win in the runoff. We're going to take it,” Maniscalco said.

As he spoke at a west Tampa Italian restaurant, he was surrounded by Tampa Democratic heavyweights, including former mayor Dick Greco, outgoing councilwoman Mary Mulhern, school board member April Griffin and Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, a former Democratic state lawmaker. 

Also showing support was Castellano, who picked up about 25 percent of the vote. He showed up shortly after the race was called to endorse Maniscalco.

“We are going to unite together, and I'm giving this guy, this baby face, 100 percent of my endorsement," he said, adding that he would get his supporters to back Maniscalco.

Castellano is a Republican-turned-independent and Maniscalco is a Democrat. Both said that doesn't matter. in their effort to beat Toledo, who they painted as an unscrupulous outsider.

“The fact of the matter is, is that we as a people are united,” Castellano said. “That...that woman has never come north of Kennedy Boulevard until this campaign. She doesn't know us.”

They point to a couple of incidents in which Toledo's campaign materials were made using government property (the city seal and an active interstate construction site).

There's disagreement over who started with the negativity in the race. Castellano said he blames the push polling Toledo's campaign did early on. But Toledo has said it was her opponents who started in on the attacks.
The big challenge for both now is to get word out about the runoff, which could be tough without any other races on the ballot.

"For the next three weeks, my kids will be walking with me, knocking on every door," Toledo said during her speech Tuesday at Piquant in Hyde Park Village. "We're going to continue with this message of positivity and problem-solving for our community." Toledo, a civil engineer, promised to get her message across of what I can do to create jobs, resolve transportation issues, and fix the city's infrastructure.

Politicos lamented Tuesday's low turnout, which was a scant 12 percent. 

"From our campaign's perspective, this has been an absolutely wonderful campaign season because people have been respecting each other," said Mike Fox, who worked on incumbent Councilwoman Yvonne "Yolie" Capin's campaign said during Capin's victory party at the Columbia. "More important decisions about our lives day in and day out are made at city council than D.C."

Kimberly DeFalco contributed to this report.

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