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Orlando Gudes latest entrant to Tampa City Council District 7 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

(UPDATED) Former Tampa Police officer Orlando Gudes announced on Wednesday that he has filed to run for the City Council seat in District 7 that will be vacated by incumbent Lisa Montelione later this year.

He now joins Gene Siudut, Luis Veira and Cyril Spiro in announcing their candidacies for the seat, which encompasses New Tampa, north Tampa and the University of South Florida/Busch Boulevard areas.

“I’ve been fighting for our families my whole life, Gudes said in a statement. “I’m running for City Council because there’s still work to be done- I will increase community policing to keep our families safe and work to bring more jobs to our community.”

Dudes retired in January from the TPD after serving 26 years on the force. Back in 2005  Gudes founded the Unity Youth Football Conference, a league focused on giving children in low economic areas a positive outlet and an opportunity to build character. The league emphasizes sportsmanship and scholastic achievement for Tampa youth. For the past 11 years, Gudes has served as Chairman covering the Southeastern United States.  “I founded the Unity Youth Football Conference to encourage our kids to stay on the right track and help build character,” he said.

“We’ve been blessed to have a strong voice in this seat on Council,” Gudes added. “As a Tampa native and 16 year home owner and resident of District 7, I want to keep carrying the torch as a community activist who can get things done” Gudes added. “I’m excited to share my strategy to move Tampa forward with the voters over the next few months.”

SaintPetersBlog.com spoke briefly with Gudes on Wednesday. He said that regarding transportation, he prefers allowing Tampa residents the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to raise the sales tax by a half-cent this fall, and urges the Board of County Commissioners to vote next week to put the measure on the ballot.

He also says that he supports the Citizens Review Board created under controversy last year to review the TPD’s policies and procedures. He says it can work for both the citizenry and the police officers themselves.

“There’s a lot of times where there are issues departmentally that police officers don’t agree with. They think  it might be harmful to the citizens,” Gudes said. “At some point, they ll be able to tell the review board.”

The U.S. Justice Dept. recently stated in a report that the TPD’s policy of  stopping and citing black bicyclists was not discriminatory. It added, however, that the bicycle enforcement policy did not produce a community benefit in terms of bicycle safety, bicycle theft, or crime generally, It did say it placed an additional burden on black cyclists, particularly in his crime areas of Tampa.

Gudes said he has his own personal opinions about the policy and the report, which also included a series of recommendations. For now, though, he says he wants to hear what the voters think about the issue.

No date has been scheduled for an election to replace Montelione, who is running for the House District 63 seat currently occupied by Republican Shawn Harrison. She faces fellow Democrat Mike Reedy in the Aug. 30 primary.

State law requires candidates that are running for another office to submit a resign to run letter  10 days prior to the beginning of qualifying. Qualifying begins June 20, so the deadline to turn in a resign to run letter would be June 10.

At that point, the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections will recognize that a new election will be needed for the seat. Currently, the four candidates who have officially filed to run in 2019, when Montelione’s term is scheduled to end.

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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