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Democrat Walter Lee Smith II makes HD 61 seat a three person primary

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

walter smithThere is now a third Democrat in the Tampa House District 59 seat being vacated by incumbent Ed Narain.

He’s Tallahassee native Walter Lee Smith II, who officially entered the contest on April 18. Smith is the son of Jeraldine Williams, a civil rights activist and one of the first black students to attend the University of Florida in 1963.

“This is something that I felt was necessary,” he says about entering the contest. “I watched for years as all these things were unfolding. Environmental justice, unemployment issues, development, education. We have some really serious issues that we need to get resolved.”

Smith teaches courses involving construction and related activities in both West and East Tampa.

A graduate of Florida A&M University, he’s currently a host of the WMNF 88.5-FM radio program Sunday Forum, and serves as an alternate on the Barrio Latino Commission in Tampa (this reporter also hosts a program on WMNF).

Attorney Sean Shaw and East Tampa businesswoman and activist Diane Hart entered the contest last month, after Narain announced he would not run for re-election. Smith says he knows both, and has had the opportunity to work with Hart at times in recent years.

“I love them both,” he says.

Shaw had raised $21,493 as of March 31, while Hart had raised $2,386 and loaned $1,500 to her campaign, according to campaign-finance reports

HD 61 encompasses downtown Tampa, Ybor City and Seminole Heights. It’s overwhelmingly Democratic in its composition, making the August 30 primary the de facto general election.

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

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