Five of the seven members of the current Tampa City Council have composed a statement expressing their disdain with the negative attacks that keep on coming in the District 6 City Council race between Guido Maniscalco and Jackie Toledo.
“While none of us are strangers to the rough and tumble of the political process, we find the introduction of third party attacks that cannot be traced to be a very alarming and destructive development,” says the letter, signed by Council members Yolie Capin, Mike Suarez, Mary Mulhern, Frank Reddick and Harry Cohen. “In our view, candidates have an affirmative responsibility to stand behind attacks that are made on their opponents or to unambiguously denounce them. We believe this is a bedrock virtue of our democracy.”
The statement was received by Florida Politics at 7 p.m. on Friday night, hours after the Maniscalco camp released a statement blasting Jackie Toledo and her campaign consultant, Anthony Pedicini, after another negative third party mailer hit District 6 households from an organization called Moving Tampa Forward, who Toledo and Maniscalco deny any involvement with.
“One of the merits of our nonpartisan municipal elections is that they have traditionally avoided the rancor and deception that have so damaged the political process at the state and national level,” the letter reads. “To protect the integrity of the process, voters should send a clear message rejecting this type of anonymous negative campaigning and be leery of unsourced, unverified attacks. Only by careful consideration and due diligence will these unsavory elements not have their desired effect and, hopefully, disappear from our election process.”
It should be noted that the five note signers are Democrats, as is Maniscalco. Toledo is a Republican.
Two council members did not sign on to the letter – Charlie Miranda and Lisa Montelione.
Councilwoman Yolie Capin lives in District 6, and says she received the negative mailer that questioned Maniscalco’s business record on Thursday. She says that she brought the mailer to the council meeting that evening, and that Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez agreed with her at the end of the Council’s meeting Thursday night that that they wanted to release a statement condemning the negativity of the campaign. They then sent a draft of their statement to Frank Reddick on Friday, who agreed to sign on.
Capin said that the letter was not sent to Montelione or Mulhern, because both candidates had already endorsed in the race, and they wanted the statement to be above politics (Mulhern has endorsed Maniscalco; Montelione has endorsed Toledo). But later in the day Mulhern learned of the letter, and said she wanted her name on it.
And what about Miranda?
“I don’t know who wrote the letter, I don’t know anything about this,” Miranda told Florida Politics Saturday morning. When asked about the third party mailers that apparently compelled the other council members to voice their opinion on, Miranda said he thought it was the media’s job to ferret out the sources of those mailers. “I don’t like negative advertising,” he said.
Montelione, a Democrat, laughed this week when asked by this reporter if she had received any pushback for endorsing Toledo, a Republican.
“That would be a yes,” she said.
The New Tampa Council member said she didn’t know Toledo before the campaign began, but was introduced to her by Cesar Hernandez, her legislative aide who sits with Toledo on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council.
“I’m very impressed by her resume, her philanthropic work that she’s done, the money she’s raised for USF college scholarships, for Latinos,” Montelione said.