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Yolie Capin elected chair of Tampa City Council

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

If you blinked you would have missed it.

Unlike a year ago, when it took 14 ballots and over a half an hour to select a chair, Yolie Capin was elected the next chair of the Tampa City Council on the first ballot Thursday morning.

The voting began with Councilman Harry Cohen, who some speculated was himself interested in becoming chair, nominating Capin.

Luis Viera, the newest member of the Council and a longtime friend of current Council Chair Mike Suarez, then renominated Suarez to serve a second year at the helm.

The vote was 5-2, with Cohen, Capin and the remaining three council members – Guido Maniscalco, Frank Roddick and Charlie Miranda, voting for Capin. After the initial vote, Suarez asked that the vote be by unanimous consent.

“I am honored,” said a humbled Capin immediately after the vote.

“I have had the honor for the past six years to work side-by-side with some of the most prepared, informed and hard working colleagues anywhere,” she said. “Thank you for the vote of confidence and I look forward to chairing city council this year.”

The chair position itself does not pay anymore than a regular council position. It’s considered a step up in prestige, but the fact that was a lack of dramatics compared to a year ago is due to the fact that Mayor Bob Buckhorn isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

A year ago the backdrop was that it was very possible that the mayor might not be around to finish up his term (which doesn’t end in 2019). That’s because of the speculation that he was in a position to be considered for a gig in Washington if  Hillary Clinton were elected president.

That didn’t happen obviously. Also overhanging the proceedings was whether Buckhorn would run for governor in 2018, which would have made this year’s vote even more critical.

If the mayor were to leave office early, City Council chair becomes the mayor. If there are less than 15 months remaining in the mayor’s term, the chair serves out the term as mayor. If there are more than 15 months left, the city charter requires a special election to be held.

With Suarez, Capin and possibly Cohen thinking of a mayoral run in 2019, there would have been intense jockeying this year if Buckhorn had declared himself a candidate for governor, which had been strongly considered a possibility for the past couple of years.

But Buckhorn ended that speculation a month ago, saying he would not pursue a statewide office in 2018.

Meanwhile, Cohen was elected to be chair pro-tem for the council. Again.

“I think the clerk is going to have to find this out for sure, but I think I’m the longest continuing serving chair pro-tem of the Tampa City Council in the history of the city,” Cohen joked.

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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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