Tampa City Council candidates are off to the campaign cash races

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Fundraising for Tampa City Council seats is in full swing. Especially in the office currently held by outgoing city council chair Charlie Miranda. Three candidates in the race for the District 6 seat covering parts of West and South Tampa have brought in a combined total of more than $100,000 in campaign cash.

Jackie Toledo is leading the pack with $60,771 in campaign contributions. Thomas Clark Castellano and Guido Maniscalco are lagging far behind with $24,135 and $21,419 respectively.

Toledo, the lone Republican in the bunch, has been endorsed by current city council member Lisa Montelione who is a Democrat. While the city council race is considered non-partisan, the current board is comprised of all Democrats. Both of Toledo’s opponents are former Republicans. Castellano dropped any party affiliation while Maniscalco is now a Democrat.

Contributions so far aren’t entirely telling of the kind of support candidates will get. Most contributions have rolled in from individual supporters and small businesses. At least one prominent Tampa Democrat has backed Maniscalco. Al Fox contributed $500 to to his campaign.

With the runoff election looming several months away, candidates have not dipped too deep into their coffers. Toledo has spent the most so far. In September she dolled out $1,300 for mostly campaign signs and supplies.

Toledo is a 25-year Tampa resident originally from Peru. She works as a civil engineer and runs a performing arts school for kids called Tampa Creative Camp. Toledo has also served on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Committee since 2009. Maniscalco sells vintage watches and Castellano owns an airconditioning company.

All current city council members running for reelection face opponents in the March 3 runoff. District 1 incumbent Mike Suarez is facing Seminole Heights activist and frequent speaker at city council meetings, Susan Long. Long, who just filed to run this week, has not reported any fundraising so far. Suarez has brought in $20,905 so far.

District 4 incumbent Harry Cohen has drawn two challengers. Kent King is the development manager for the Tampa Atlantic division of Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida. He’s raised $32,041 so far with most of it pouring in throughout September.

A University of Tampa student has also filed. David Tyler Barrett is a 22-year old junior majoring in history and government and world affairs. He worked as a field organizer for the Nan Rich gubernatorial campaign and organizes for the UT College Democrats. Barrett has not posted any campaign finance documents. He’s also refusing to discuss his campaign with reporters until after the mid-term elections.

Cohen himself has brought in $43,250 so far. There are some big name contributors – U.S. Representative Kathy Castor kicked in $500 while former city attorney Jim Shimberg and his wife each donated $250. He hasn’t spent any of his money yet.

Council members Yvonne Yolie Capin and Franki Reddick are expected to maintain their districts easily. Capin faces former city council candidate Paul Erni. Erni has raised just $2,855 compared to Capin’s $38,270. Nearly half of Capin’s donations were maximum contributions of $1,000 and several of them came from family members.

Reddick faces Borthland Roachesta Murray. Murray is a 25-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department. Despite his service in the community, Murray has only raised $950 so far. Reddick has $15,100 in campaign contributions. He received to donations from cab companies for $500 each. Cab companies will be paying attention to local races this cycle as the county and other elected bodies continue to deal with controversy over regulating ride share programs like Uber and Lyft. Businessman Quinton Robinson is also challenging Reddick. He hasn’t raised any money so far, but does have a not-so cool $50 in the bank compliments of himself.

Montelione is facing former city council member Joseph Caetano who she ousted from his District 7 seat in the last election. Neither candidate have posted impressive fundraising numbers. Montelione has raised $2,750. Caetano has raise $550 with $50 of it coming from his own check. Former city attorney Shimberg donated $250 to her reelection campaign.

Former Tiger Bay president Joseph Citro is running for the District 2 seat being vacated by Mary Mulhern due to term limits. He does not face a challenger as of yet, but it’s possible Charlie Miranda will run for her seat. Miranda’s current post is a single-member district while Mulhern’s is city wide. City charter allows term-limited incumbents in a single member district to run for an at-large seat and vice-versa.

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.