Tampa’s Mike Suarez announces re-election campaign kick-off

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Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez will officially kick off his 2015 re-election campaign on October 28th during a fundraising event hosted by the Beck Group and several individual contributors at 220 West Seventh Avenue in Tampa near the newly opened Ulele Restaurant.

The suggested donation for hosts is $1,000 and $500 for co-hosts. Individual attendees are asked to kick in $100.

A host committee is still being formed and already includes former mayoral candidate and entrepreneur Ed Turanchik, governmental affairs guru Lois Betz, prominent community volunteer Joe Capitano Sr., contractor Steve Cona, III, Judge Jim Davis and several others.

“During this first term, we’ve worked to improve service delivery, enhance neighborhoods and to guarantee your money is used as efficiently as possible. As the Chair of HART we’ve increased ridership and improved the customer experience with public transit. I have great pride in what we’ve accomplished together and I know there are more exciting changes coming to Tampa,” Suarez wrote in an email invitation.

Suarez currently has only one challenger – Seminole Heights activist and frequent city council commenter Susan Long. Suarez has raised $20,905 so far with contributions from numerous attorneys and business owners as well as the International Association of Firefighters local 754 and the RSA Consulting Group. Long has not reported any contributions.

Suarez currently sits as chair of the HART board. In July he was slammed by Tampa Bay Times columnist Dan Ruth for fumbling questions regarding the Pinellas transit referendum to expand transportation options in which he referred to 2018 as a presidential election year (um, no) and suggested that two years isn’t enough time for Hillsborough to gather its own referendum. In an email, Suarez called the presidential year gaffe a “slip of the tongue.” Regardless, Suarez’s status as a powerful incumbent who likely has mayoral aspirations will be difficult to defeat next March.

Those interested in attending his kick-off fundraiser are asked to RSVP (translation: donate) on his website.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.