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Clearing up our reporting about Tampa City Council candidate Susan Long

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

On Election Day in Tampa, yours truly went to two different voting precincts in Seminole Heights to try to interrogate voters’ opinions on the most interesting race on the ballot, the District 6 City Council race between Jackie Toledo, Guido Maniscalco and Tommy Castellano.

As we reported in our story, we went to different locations: the Seminole Heights Garden Center on Central Avenue, and at the American Legion Post 111 on Florida Avenue, approximately 7 blocks north.

We had extremely mixed success in garnering interviews. While at the American Legion Post we had a relatively robust exchange with voters (surprisingly so,  considering that the turnout in the city was a piddling 12.7 percent), we only talked with two human beings at the Seminole Heights Garden Center.

One of them was Susan Long, on the ballot running for the citywide District 1 seat vs. incumbent Mike Suarez. The other was another woman who only gave us her first name, which was also Susan.

But not Susan Long.

Although I had a nice conversation with Ms. Long, none of that exchange was about the other candidates on the ballot, but only about her own run for office, her second in four years. I typed up those notes and sent it to another Florida Politics reporter for a story he wrote that night about the District 1 race.

The other woman named Susan gave some interesting and, frankly, bizarre comments about who she was supporting and why. She said she never voted for female candidates, saying, “I prefer male candidates.” She went on to say that, “I find that leadership — some women are good — but for the most part, I have a lack of trust in women leadership.”

Several people wrote to me either laughing or saying they couldn’t believe the woman said that. She did. But nobody wrote and said to me that they thought it was Susan Long.

But on Friday, Ms. Long contacted this reporter and said that though she hadn’t seen the piece herself, friends and others had contacted her about it, and couldn’t believe she would make such comments.

In reading the piece again, I realized that even though it appeared to be very clear that there were two different women I interviewed at the Garden Center, I could see how a reader could conflate the two into one “Susan.”

So, for the record, none of the quotes in that story came from Susan Long. The quotes that we took from Ms. Long were used in another story, since I never asked her who she was voting for in District 6.

As a female candidate, I’m pretty sure Ms. Long believes strongly in supporting other female candidates (we were unable to speak with her today). Our regrets if somehow the impression was made otherwise.

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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