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Photo by Dave Decker
Bill Carlson, Tampa City Councilman for District 4 who easily won re-election last week, was among write-in candidates in the 2023 municipal election.
In last week’s Tampa Municipal Election, incumbent Mayor Jane Castor ran virtually unopposed
and saw 22,988 votes cast for her.
The only qualified write-in, Dr. Belinda Noah, took just over 2,138 votes, according to official results
. But 3,560 other Tampeños wrote-in someone else
besides Noah, meaning Castor earned just 80% of the write-in vote in her re-election.
What’s more is that undervotes, where voters don’t vote at all in a race, were 4,148 for the mayoral contest.
“When you combine the undervote with the write-in votes, 32.49 percent of voters did not vote for Jane Castor, even though in all reality she was unopposed,” La Gaceta pointed out in its latest “As We Heard It” column, “the percentage of voters who took the time to write in any name on their ballot rather than Castor is astonishing.”
Almost as astonishing is who voters actually wrote-in besides Castor or Noah.
The usual suspects (ie: Mickey Mouse) were listed in the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections’ write-in report
, but there were other celebrities on the list.
Taylor Swift—who’s playing three nights at Raymond James Stadium next month
—got votes for mayor, and so did someone else who used to spend a lot of time at the football stadium: Tom Brady.
Other local athletes who earned votes for Tampa Mayor include Tampa Bay Rays star Wander Franco, plus the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Pat Maroon who would probably put up a hell of a fight against Tampa’s rising rents.
Lightning owner Jeff Vinik got votes, and so did developer Darryl Shaw and philanthropist Danny Persaud.
Ruben "Butch" Delgado, who Castor passed over for police chief in favor of since-disgraced former chief Mary O'Connor
, was a popular write-in candidate, too, along with John Dingfelder, the former city councilman who made a contentious exit one year ago.
As expected, politicians including past mayoral candidates Harry Cohen and the late David Straz
made appearances, but so did past mayors (Bob Buckhorn, Sandy Freeman and Dick Greco) and someone who was rumored to be thinking about running for mayor this year (Bill Carlson, Tampa City Councilman for District 4 who easily won re-election last week).
Other elected officials written-in by Tampa voters include ousted State Attorney Andrew Warren, his nemesis Ron DeSantis (also listed as “Rhonda Santis”
on one ballot) and District 3 Tampa City Councilwoman Lynn Hurtak (who’s in a runoff against former State Sen. Janet Cruz, who’s also the mother of Mayor Castor’s partner Ana Cruz).
Activists—including South Tampa warrior Stephanie Poynor and occasional Creative Loafing Tampa Bay contributor Kelly Benjamin—were among the write-ins for Tampa mayor along with business people like Crowbar owner Tom DeGeorge, and even newspaper folks like La Gaceta Publisher Patrick Manteiga, this writer, and outgoing CL staff writer Justin Garcia
who received at least 19 votes.
“My nutsack” and “Turd Ferguson” also earned someone’s vote along with folkloric locals like the Seminole Heights coyote and two-headed alligator, along with celebs like Al and Kelly Bundy.
Donna at Old Seminole Heights diner Three Coins got a vote, too.
Unsurprisingly, Jesus also made the write-in, but in a shocker, his nemesis, Satan (aka Lucifer), did not. So at least the mayor has that going for her.
A runoff for Tampa City City Council seats in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 6 happens on April 25.
The deadline to for voter registration in the runoff is March 27, if you're not already registered. Early voting in the 2023 Tampa City Council runoff election happens april 17-23 at select sites.