With the lack of a competitive mayoral race and two of the seven City Council seats not even on the ballot today, voter participation is not expected to be very robust in today’s municipal election in Tampa.
One of those two council members who didn’t get an opponent and thus was automatically re-elected in January, District 5 representative Frank Reddick, says the fact that he’s not on the ballot will directly affect the black vote in Tampa today.
“It’s hard enough to get African Americans to come out and vote in general, but when you don’t have an African American on the ballot, it makes it more difficult,” he said on Monday.
Reddick was part of a news conference that announced that U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and approximately 100 members of the community will be traveling to Alabama this weekend to participate in the 50th year anniversary of the march on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, a crucial moment in the civil rights battles of the 1960s that ultimately led to the Voting Rights Act. Reddick said that there were people who died fighting for the right to vote, and the best way to honor their sacrifice would be for people to vote today. But he also says the fact that he’s not on the ballot today will undoubtedly impact participation.
“Even though there are three at-large seats that African Americans can vote (on),” he said, “most of them don’t know these people, and they’re not comfortable voting for somebody they don’t know,” he said about the candidates running in District 1, 2 and 3. However, it seems likely that many voters would recognize Charlie Miranda, who has been on and off the ballot here in Tampa for decades.
Miranda faces off against Julie Jenkins and Joe Citro in the District 2 race. Mike Suarez and Susan Long are running in District 1, while Yolie Capin competes against Paul Erni in the District 3 race.
Reddick says he’s been doing whatever he can to talk up the election in the community, going as far as purchasing a half-page ad in the Florida Sentinel-Bulletin to send a message to the black community. “But it’s a difficult process,” he admits.
Frank Reddick represents District 5, which encompasses all of downtown Tampa, East Tampa, the Channel District and Ybor City.